Inside: Capital Improvements: Best Plan for Schools

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has approved a plan that will provide $1 billion to build and repair K-12 schools statewide.

The initiative, Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST), will create a centralized school construction plan. Many of Colorado's schools are in disrepair; a 2003 state auditor's report said $4.7 billion was needed to carry out facility improvements. But the governor says half of the 178 school districts in Colorado don't have a tax base to support this level of construction.

BEST will direct $30 million to $40 million of existing revenues from the state's School Land Permanent Trust Fund to leverage up to $500 million in state dollars and an additional $500 million in local matching funds.

State officials will conduct a statewide assessment of school health and safety needs, according to the governor's office. In awarding grants, the program will give preference to projects that meet health and safety needs and help poor, rural districts with the oldest infrastructure.

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