North Routt Community Charter School approved for grant
School's construction anticipated to start in spring
Steamboat Springs — The North Routt Community Charter School has won approval for $3.2 million grant to help build a new school in Clark.
The grant, a Building Excellent Schools Today grant through the state’s Capital Construction Assistance program, requires a nearly $800,000 match. The BEST grant was approved Tuesday by the state Board of Education.
This marks the second year in a row the North Routt school has won the grant. Last year’s $3.1 million grant required a $1.7 million match. That grant eventually was rescinded because the Capital Construction Assistance program was concerned that a majority of the match was secured with a bank loan. The program also questioned the charter school’s ability to repay the loan.
Not to be deterred, charter school officials reapplied for the grant in April.
The grant and match will fund the construction of a new $4 million school facility to be located about a quarter-mile north of the existing school off Routt County Road 62 in Clark. The new building would be on the same property as the North Routt Preschool.
The 12,200-square-foot facility will include six classrooms, a main office and workspace for a school nurse and teachers. It will replace the existing three charter school buildings that total 3,400 square feet.
“While it’s a wonderful site — we love it, and it’s historical — the site is too small,” charter school Director Colleen Poole said. “We’re growing, and we need a bigger site.”
Poole said a special permit from Routt County restricts the current school site to 75 people, including teachers and students. She said the school is at capacity.
The new school site will allow the school, which opened in 2000, to grow. Poole said the new school facility also would be a community center during nonschool hours with a gathering space that could accommodate about 150 people.
“That’s one of the major selling points of the building,” Poole said. “The idea of this building was to double as a community center and a community space that people can use.”
And this time around, the charter school has the grant match, Poole said. She said the charter school was awarded a $500,000 Department of Local Affairs energy impact grant and a $200,000 grant from the Gates Family Foundation of Denver. The last $100,000 of the grant match was provided through a $100,000 contribution from the Steamboat Springs School District’s capital reserve fund, which can be spent only on capital projects.
State Treasurer Cary Kennedy said the Capital Construction Assistance program, now in its third fundraising cycle, was created to provide money for school districts statewide to replace aging facilities. On Thursday, ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for two new schools — one replaced a nearly 100-year-old building in the Sargent School District in Rio Grande County — that were funded through grants from the first round of the BEST program.
However, Kennedy said the program is in jeopardy. Voters in November will consider Amendment 61. If the ballot measure is approved, she said it would eliminate the Building Excellent Schools Today program. Kennedy wasn’t sure whether its approval would affect the grants approved for fiscal year 2011 — 46 projects totaling nearly $244 million.
“We’re pleased to be able to partner with school districts. We’re pleased to be able to provide support for these worthy projects,” Kennedy said. “I’m fearful Amendment 61 will pass, and we won’t be able to do this.”
If Amendment 61 fails or its approval doesn’t affect next year’s grant funding, Poole said construction of the new charter school is anticipated to begin after the snow melts this spring. She hopes students and teachers can occupy it by January 2012.
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