Kit Carson School District Superintendent, Robert Framel verified that the school district was just rewarded a BEST Grant from the State of Colorado in the amount of $24,311,578.59 with a contingency that the district be able to meet the match requirement of $8,048,783.60 (25%) of the total project cost of $32,360,362.19. According to Framel, the district is attempting to pass a bond issue in the November election in order to meet the $8M match required to build the new school. If the issue does not pass, the school district will forfeit the BEST Grant award.
The BEST grant was applied for by the district after an extensive study of the current facilities was performed. The building, which houses all students in grades K-12, was built in the 1950’s and the “Old Gym,” as it is referred to by locals, is even older being built in the 1930’s. Through the past nearly 70 years the building has been cared for well, however, it has now exceeded its life expectancy. Currently, the building presents several major health and safety deficiencies that need to be addressed immediately in order to safeguard students and staff. According to Framel, “An independently verified state assessment has identified over $13 million in major repairs including a failed roof system, deteriorating water and sewer systems, outdated heating and cooling systems, outdated electrical systems that were not designed for 21st century technology, and lack of ADA accessibility.” Framel explains that, “One of the main issues is the air ventilation system that puts our people at a health risk.”
Yes, Kit Carson seems to be sitting between a rock and a hard place as they determine where the money will come from to either fix up their failing building or ask the taxpayers to pay for a brand new multi-million dollar building for an estimated 110-115 students who are currently in the district.
In order to convince tax payers in the Kit Carson School District to approve a bond issue that will substantially raise their taxes, Framel has put together a Fact Sheet that he hopes will convince his constituents to open their pockets a little wider for the future of Kit Carson’s youth and the community as a whole.
It comes down to the fact, that after numerous community meetings, they determined that the district could not raise enough money to make the necessary renovations costing $11M+, so they have decided to build new and try to raise the allowable $8M match.
The new school building would be built on the existing property with the project entailing approximately a 60,000 square foot building that will be designed to meet current Colorado Department of Education high performance certification requirements.
In talking to the public about what the tax payers will be facing, Framel gives the following information that he hopes will convince tax payers to support the new school:
$75,000 house increase $88.24 per year ($7.35 per month)
$100,000 business increase $459.70 per year ($31.31 per month)
Grazing Land – valued at $20,600 per section will increase $95.11 per year ($7.93 per month per section)
“Oil/Gas, Wind, Residential, Agriculture, and Commercial properties will all work together to pay the cost of the building. The number of mills each year depends upon their assessed values. The interest rate will be locked in at approximately 4.75%.”
Framel is banking on the wind turbine industry that is projected to take off in Cheyenne County in the next 2-3 years. “Each turbine raises the assessed evaluation of the county by approximately $20,000 based on current mils.” And Framel may be right as there seems to be solid evidence that up to 11 turbines have been committed in the school district for the future. According to estimates from Cheyenne County leaders, there could be as many as 500-1000 turbines installed across the Kit Carson and Cheyenne Wells districts by a reported two companies including EXCEL Energy.
That will remain to be seen, but Framel is hoping the high expectations will help the local taxpayers approve this tax hike in order to build the school. Currently, the evaluation is not as good as it has been in the past with Kit Carson School District’s assessed value sitting at $40, 244, 345. Kit Carson School District is asking for an additional 15.851 mills. However, according to Framel, “As assessed value increases the mills will drop. For example, an assessed value of $45 million will drop the mills to 14.176, and so on.”
Overall, Framel is very excited about the progress and positive responses he continues to receive. The plan of attack, until the election on November 6th, is to move forward with priority items including securing an Owner’s Rep and putting out an RFP for an architect. These two items will occur this week so that Framel can then begin the process of sponsoring a number of community meetings where input will be given on the types of educational and sports facilities the community wants. A design team will be established who will collect the community input and work directly with the architect on certain elements of the building. These will be the overall functioning elements such as the outdoor sports facilities, weight rooms, gymnasiums, classrooms, and music and/or arts spaces.
“The district encompasses about 17 acres,” according to Framel, “So we have a lot of room to develop the very best facility we can imagine.”
Finally, Framel states, “An in-process plan, determined alongside the building planning stage, will be put together ‘if and when’ the bond issue passes in November that will entail how we will facilitate students and teachers during the construction period.”
The BEST Grant comes from marijuana taxes, State School Trust Lands (leases, rents and royalties), and spillover Colorado State Lottery funds. This year, in addition to Kit Carson, 4 other schools including Wray (PreK-12; $34.498M); Manzanola (K-12; $32.766M); Hayden (MS/HS New Building & Elementary Renovations; $61.175M); and Buena Vista (MS/HS New School; $50.862M) will be receiving funds through the BEST Grant. Wray and Manzanola are trying to pass bond initiatives much like Kit Carson in order to meet their match funds.