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News release - State board OKs nearly $300 million for school construction projects under BEST program

June 15, 2017

State board OKs nearly $300 million for school construction projects under BEST program

Twenty-eight projects approved to begin throughout Colorado

DENVER - The Colorado State Board of Education on Thursday at its regular June board meeting approved $295.6 million in total projects for school construction across the state in annual grant awards from the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program.

 Approximately, $70 million of that amount is from cash grants, $123.1 million is from lease-purchase grants, and $102.5 million is from matching contributions.

The Capital Construction Assistance Fund receives income streams from marijuana excise funds, the Colorado State Land Board, spillover from the Colorado Lottery and interest on the assistance fund. School districts, BOCES, charter schools, Charter School Institute and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind may apply for the grants and must provide matching funds.

Last year’s total allocation was $161 million with $60 million from cash grants. This year's higher amount is due to an increase in state borrowing authority that allowed the state’s Capital Construction Assistance Board to consider lease-purchase grants, which are typically used to fund larger projects. These grants are financed, and financing is repaid with future assistance fund revenues.

 In all, 28 projects and five back-ups were approved, including:

  • Replacing a middle school and renovating a high school in Brush RE-2(J)

  • New PK-12 schools in Deer Trail and Del Norte

  • Replacing a PK-12 school in Mountain Valley RE-1

  • Partially replacing and renovating Hudson Elementary School in Weld RE-3J

A full list of the projects can be found here.

Board gives final direction to schools and districts for 2017

The board gave its final direction to remaining schools and districts on the Accountability Clock, including Aguilar RE-6, Adams 14, Pueblo City 60 and Huerfano RE-1.

As required by  Colorado’s 2009 Accountability Act, the board must direct action this spring to improve student academic outcomes for a total of five districts and 12 schools with chronically low performance. These decisions finalized the board’s responsibility for directing action to the schools and districts at the end of the accountability clock in 2017.

Pueblo 60: The board on Thursday approved a final written determination directing Pueblo City Schools to implement its innovation plan and enter into a management contract with the Achievement Network to improve student academic outcomes at Bessemer Elementary School, Heroes Middle School and Risley Academy of Innovation. The board’s directions require Pueblo City Schools to give the Achievement Network decision-making authority over instructional strategies, assessments, performance management, professional development and scheduling.  

Huerfano RE-1: The board on Wednesday approved the final written determination directing Huerfano School District to enter into a management partnership with Generation Schools Network to improve academic outcomes for students at Peakview School. The board’s direction requires Huerfano School District to turn over decision-making authority to GSN regarding Peakview’s school climate and culture, academic systems, professional development and continuous improvement of school improvement strategies.

Aguilar RE-6: The board on Thursday approved the final written determination directing Aguilar School District to implement its proposal to continue working with Generation Schools Network to improve academic outcomes for students at Aguilar Junior-Senior High School and throughout the district. The district already has taken significant action to improve academic outcomes, including closing and reopening its junior-senior high school and selecting Generation Schools Network as a management partner. Improvement in school culture and academics already have been demonstrated, including increases in enrollment and graduation rates.

Adams 14: The board on Thursday approved the final written determination directing Adams 14 School District to implement its revised management proposal to partner with Beyond Textbooks to improve academic outcomes for students at Adams City High School and two other schools in the district.

In other action, the board:

  • Denied Colorado Springs D-11’s request to waive a state-approved school readiness assessment.

  • Approved Strasburg 31J’s request to waive a state-approved school readiness assessment.

  • Approved Thompson School District as a district of innovation on behalf of Winona and Monroe elementary schools.  

  • Approved an amended innovation application from Denver Public Schools on behalf of Valdez Elementary School.

  • Approved recommended districts and schools for funding School Turnaround Leaders Development Grant Program.

  • Voted to discontinue the multi-district online pilot program and incorporate all multi-district online schools into the Title I funding allocation process on a permanent basis statewide.  

  • Approved the methodology to set PSAT and SAT targets for use in the 2017 school and district performance frameworks.

  • Approved a request by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice to use limited student Personally Identifiable Information that will be provided securely for research on the impacts on youth related to the use of secure detention for truancy.

Schools in 2014 High Achieving Schools Study recognized

Schools that participated in the High Achieving Schools Study of 2014 were recognized. Honors were given to Canyon Creek Elementary, Cherry Creek School District; Tavelli Elementary, Poudre School District; South Lakewood Elementary, Jefferson County Public Schools; Soaring Eagles Elementary, Harrison School District 2; Burlington Elementary, St. Vrain Valley School District. These schools have been serving as models and learning partners for other struggling schools in the state.

Board honors Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the country’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.  Colorado 2017 award winners Emma Albertoni, from Jeffco Public Schools, and Breanna Remigio, from Aurora Public Schools, were honored by the board. Alec Greven, from Castle View High School, was also recognized as a 2017 distinguished finalist.  View the full list of student finalists recognized for their volunteering efforts and impact in their communities.  

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