Lake City Community School Completes, Delivers BEST Grant to Dept. of Education

In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, February 23, Lake City Community School Board President Phillip Virden crept quietly out of town for an expedition to Denver with precious cargo onboard. In Virden’s possession was the completed BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant that Virden, Superintendent Leslie Nichols, Board Director Tara Hardy, and the school board and staff have been working on since 2016.
The BEST grant is a capital construction grant through the Colorado Department of Education which was established in 2008 with the signing of C.R.S. 22-43.7. The BEST grant provides annual funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools, as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.
Nichols, staff and school board have been
working on their Facilities Plan for the past two years in conjunction with the completion of the BEST grant, which is an effort to secure 70% of the cost of an addition/remodel to the existing school facility. An addition/remodel was found to be the best of many options presented by RTA Architects, a design firm located in Colorado Springs, through a series of recent public meetings. The cost of the preferred project came in at $13,490,000, higher than RTA’s upper estimate of $12,000,000. FCI Constructors, a Durango firm, did the formal cost estimate and it became clear that such a high building cost in Lake City was the reality. Extensive ‘value engineering’ was done to the project to reach the $13,490,000 which was down from an original $15,000,000 estimate. If the BEST grant is awarded, the school district must put up a $4,047,000 match. With a possible $500,000 from district capital reserves, this could mean an approximate 3.5 million- dollar bond.
According to Nichols, this bond amount was met with favorable feedback at the final RTA public meeting.
As Nichols and the school board wait with baited breath, anyone with further questions, comments or concerns can contact Lake City Community School at 970-944-2314. Nichols reports that the school board will make a brief presentation to the BEST Board mid-May, and they should have an answer as to whether the grant will be awarded shortly thereafter.