Colorado officials have approved $447 million for 35 school construction projects, the largest amount ever awarded under a school building program that is partially funded by proceeds from marijuana sales.
The Denver Post reports that among the largest projects are a $61.2 million replacement of a junior-senior high school and renovation of an elementary school in Hayden and a $50.9 million renovation and replacement of the Buena Vista High and Middle School. The projects have been approved by the Colorado State Board of Education.
About $85 million of the 2018 Building Excellent Schools Today — or BEST— awards will be funded through cash grants from income earned from the Colorado State Land Board, marijuana excise taxes, spillover from the Colorado Lottery and interest on the assistance fund.
Applicants also contribute $74 million in matching funds, according to the state.
Another $190 million comes from lease-purchase grants from the state. Financing will be repaid with future assistance fund revenues. Applicants also contribute $98 million in matching money.
The BEST program began in 2008 and is intended for the “improvement of health, safety, security and technology in public schools,” according to the Colorado Department of Education. Schools apply for the grants; the Capital Construction Advisory Board reviews applications, prioritizes them and submits recommendations to the state board.
Other projects include the $39.9 million replacement of Orchard Mesa Middle School in Mesa County, a $32.3 million new preschool through 12th grade school in Kit Carson and a new school for Swallows Charter Academy in Pueblo for $20.1 million.