As the Mancos School District Re-6 prepares for an extensive campus upgrade, district officials are looking for feedback.
The school board will host three informational public meetings, April 11 and 27 and May 8. The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 503 of the west wing of the school’s campus, the board’s regular meeting room.
Superintendent Brian Hanson said public feedback is important as the board moves forward.
“We’ve diligently thought this through,” he said on March 28.
There haven’t been any major campus upgrades in Mancos since the early 1990s, Hanson said. The tentative $25 million project would set up the community for at least 20-30 years, Hanson said.
School officials are pursuing four different funding sources for the project. One grant has been awarded to the district — a $110,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant that will go toward a new elementary school playground. The board also may pursue a GOCO grant of about $375,000 for upgrades to the school athletic fields, Hanson said.
The main source of funding is a Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, grant from the Colorado Department of Education. District officials applied for the grant this year, and Hanson said he expects to hear whether it’s been awarded in June.
Hanson hopes that the majority of the money, about $20 million, will be awarded from the state via the BEST grant. He hopes to raise the remaining $5 million through a bond issue that will come before Mancos voters in November.
Typically, the state provides 54 percent of BEST grant funds, with the school district responsible for raising a 46 percent match of the project cost. For the Mancos project, that would mean the community would need to raise $11.5 million, Hanson said.
That amount is higher than the maximum bond capacity of about $9.4 million the school district is permitted to raise, Hanson said. Per statute, the district qualifies for a BEST grant match reduction down to the district’s maximum bond capacity, he said.
School board members felt that $9.4 million was still too much to ask for, so they have asked for a further reduction down to a 20 percent community contribution, or about $5 million, Hanson said. The state would provide the remaining $20 million through the BEST grant.
The bond issue will ask voters within the Mancos School District to commit to raising the $5 million over the next 20 years through a property tax hike. According to Hanson, the tax hike would mean an extra $63 per year per $100,000 of assessed value for homeowners.
School board members want to be transparent and open about the process, Hanson said.
Hanson said the board discussed lowering the scope of work because of the tax commitment, but decided not to.
“That’s tough because everything is connected,” he said.
Part of the plan includes converting the performance center, which currently hosts sports events, back into a place that focuses on music and fine arts performances, he said. After that’s done, they will need a new place for sports, so they plan to convert the historic gym back into a venue that can support the school’s varsity teams, Hanson said.
“It’s all this ripple effect,” he said. “We decided to go all or nothing.”