Construction funded by pot taxes, lottery revenue

By Meg Wingerter
The Denver Post

Denver-area schools will split more than $14 million raised through marijuana taxes and lottery revenue for projects ranging from replacing roofs to expanding their buildings.

The Colorado State Board of Education approved $229 million in grants through the Building Excellent Schools Today program in June. More than half will be in the form of traditional grants — cash given to schools for specific uses — funded by marijuana excise taxes, Colorado Lottery revenue and other sources. The districts have to pay matching funds to receive the grants.

The remaining $100 million involves a sort of “rent-to-own” relationship. Districts lease a building to the state for the upfront cash, then pay gradually until they’ve reached a predetermined matching level. The state theoretically could take possession of a building if the district didn’t pay its matching funds, but that’s highly unlikely, said Jeremy Meyer, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Education.

The list of projects includes:

Denver Public Schools: $1,471,517 for upgrades to the fire suppression system at George Washington High School; $3,344,136 to replace piping at Gil-pin Elementary School.

Board of Cooperative Educational Services: $4,404,556 for a building addition and safety upgrades at Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning.

Jeffco Public Schools: $2 million for fiber network infrastructure.

Sheridan School District: $930,877 for roof replacement at SOAR Academy.

Boulder Valley School District: $921,525 for health and safety improvements at Justice High School.

St. Vrain Valley School District: $667,567 for roof repairs.

Westminster Public Schools: $342,517 to replace the boiler at Shaw Heights Middle School.

Douglas County School Dis trict: $128,652 for roof replace ment at Trailblazer Elementary School.

Byers School District: $35,668 for asbestos abatement.

Backup projects, should any of the selected projects fail to raise matching funds:

Aurora Public Schools $17,680,732 for an addition to East Middle School.

Mapleton Public Schools $17,414,794 to replace Valley View Elementary School.

Meg Wingerter: 303-954-3051, or @MegWingerter