Election 2017: Hayden Schools looks to build modern campus with passage of 3A
With its aging secondary schools deemed unsafe, the Hayden School District is pursuing a plan that could help the district of 443 students build a new, 21st-century school campus for 33 cents on the dollar.
The goal is contingent on a tentative $41 million Colorado Department of Education “Best Grant” coming together with Hayden School District voters approving a $22.3 million bond issue along with a property tax on Nov. 7 to pay back the debt.
The ballot question seeks a tax increase that would generate no more than $1.945 million annually and is estimated to cost taxpayers $9.75 a month for every $100,000 of assessed valuation on their home.
The district’s goal, School Board President Brian Hoza said, is to leverage $22.3 million in bonds with grant monies to build a preschool through 12th-grade campus designed to meet the district’s needs for the next 50 years on 22 acres of land the district already owns at the site of the present elementary school. The site is just a few blocks from downtown Hayden and west of the Routt County Fairgrounds.
“This current (grant) cycle is being considered as a lifetime opportunity to have grant funding available,” Hoza said. “We have one of the greatest needs in the state, validated by a third party.”
Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner said the $22.3 million the district hopes to borrow is very close to the amount of money required to bring the existing middle school and high school buildings, which also house administrative offices, up to modern standards of safety and efficiency.
How bad is the shape of the existing buildings?
The roof of the administration/middle school wing collapsed in 2008 and is still not up to code. In 2011, the middle school gym had to be removed because it was failing, and middle school students now share the elementary school gym.
The kitchen for the secondary school is not usable. But of greater concern is the fact that the 19 different entrances to the buildings cannot be adequately secured.
“There are many aspects of our building that are functionally obsolete,” Sinner said. “They work, but if we need parts, we go onto eBay.”
Hayden district needs voters elsewhere to reject tax questions
However, fate and the enthusiasm of voters in other school districts around the state may ultimately determine if the Hayden district receives the vital “Best Grant” from the state. The school district is on a wait list and ranked sixth for one of four grants to be awarded this year.
Not only does the district need its voters to approve the local bond issue, but it also needs voters in other school districts to turn down similar ballot questions, to clear a path for Hayden’s new building plans.
“We need two out of four (other) ballot questions to fail,” Hoza said.
However, should Hayden School District voters pass the bond issue, but the district fail to be awarded the grant in 2017, there would still be hope. The affirmative vote would still be viable for the 2018 and 2019 grant cycles, Hoza added.
The Hayden School District’s information campaign on behalf of the bond issue is being led by Hayden resident Kevin Kleckler.
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The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation is currently taking grant applications from organizations that provide direct service to help with the implementation or expansion of literacy programs for children who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading.