The BEST Grant Program was established in 2008 to provide an annual amount of funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, Institute of charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. The funds from a BEST grant can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.
Where do the BEST Grant funds come from?
These funds have four revenue sources:
- State Land Trust Funds (87%)
- Colorado Lottery Spillover Funds (5%)
- Marijuana Excise Taxes (5.4%)
- Interest (2.3%)
What is the funding formula?
Grant applications are based on different criteria such as safety hazards, health concerns, security, overcrowding, the percentage of free or reduced lunch population, and tax base, to name a few.
How much money does BEST distribute annually?
The BEST grant program is charged with the administration and allocation of $40 million in statewide funding. Their work is no small feat as there is, easily, $14 billion in capital needs statewide.
Are we eligible for a BEST grant? If so, why haven't we gotten one to pay for our schools?
Yes. Just because we do not allow the sale of marijuana in Mesa County, we are still eligible to receive money from the sales. The School District has applied for grants four times, but each request has been denied.
Why have we been denied?
That final determination is up to the BEST grant board, but our best guess is that other districts that have applied have a higher free/reduced lunch population. Ours is 50%, but there are many districts in Colorado that top 90%. We also have a significantly larger and more wealthy tax base than other districts and can afford a Mill Levy and Bond as a community.
Would a BEST Grant pay for the entire construction?
No. Even if we were to receive a grant, we would still need to come up with 2/3 of the total cost of the project, as these grants are a matching fund. That amount is based on factors such as local median household income, assessed value of the local property, and free/reduced lunch population.
Visit the Colorado Department of Education's BEST Grant Program website for more details on the program: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdefinance/capconstbest