Mountain Valley School District has been awarded a once-in-a-lifetime $27 million Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant to build a safe and secure 21st-century learning facility for our students, our community, and our future. To receive this BEST Grant, voters who reside in our school district must approve a matching $3.7 million bond. Voting ballots have been mailed and the official election deadline is Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Many residents have attended community meetings and received accurate information. However, some misinformation has recently surfaced and I would like to revisit the most frequently asked questions in detail. My hope is that all citizens will have factual information when they vote on ballot question 3B.
WHAT IS THE BEST PROGRAM?
Building Excellent Schools Today legislation was passed in the spring of 2008 for the purpose of assisting school districts with low property values in upgrading facilities to a minimum standard of safety and functionality. Without this BEST funding, low property value school districts, like Mountain Valley School District, would never be able to build safe and modern school facilities for our students, families, and community.
HOW MUCH WILL THE PROPOSED NEW SCHOOL COST?
The total cost of a new PreK-12 school facility presented in the Mountain Valley School BEST Grant proposal was just under $31 million dollars. Last May, Mountain Valley School District was awarded a $27 million BEST Grant. To receive this BEST Grant, it will be necessary for district residents to match about 12% of this cost by approving a $3.7 million bond during the 2017 election. The State of Colorado will be providing 88% of the approved BEST project funding costs.
WHAT WOULD IT COST TO SIMPLY RENOVATE OUR CURRENT FACILITIES AT MOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT?
A 2009 facilities assessment by the Colorado Department of Education found almost $17 million worth of needed repairs at Mountain Valley School District. Since that time, conditions at the school have only deteriorated while costs have escalated. With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, Mountain Valley School can never repair the existing problems without funding assistance. Due to the current condition of our facilities and cost to renovate, remodeling was never a feasible option. The Colorado Department of Education’s Capital Construction Board ranked Mountain Valley’s new school construction project as the highest need in the state of Colorado and awarded a $27 million BEST Grant to build a new state-of-the-art school facility for our community.
NV5 Technical Engineering and Consulting Solutions estimated renovation costs using the formula $250 per square foot x 75,000 square feet = $18.75 million for buildings alone + additions + grounds improvements + temporary learning spaces for the students. NV5 also noted that the $3.7 million matching bond would still be required, and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) would not support renovations with Mountain Valley’s Facilities Cost Index (FCI = cost of needed repairs/value of the property) of 72.21%. Sarah Lara from NV5 stated, “In Mountain Valley’s case a new school makes the most sense, from a financial & safety/security standpoint for students and staff. Mountain Valley School was one of the highest needs schools that submitted an application, so that says a lot about the level of concern from CDE about the current buildings.”
Wold Architects and Engineers was asked for a professional opinion on renovation as well. Job Gutierrez from Wold stated, “Even if Mountain Valley fixed all of the current deficiencies at $16-18 million for system replacements (actual project costs would be higher), they would still be left with an old and antiquated school layout, not a modern 21st Century school with flexible learning spaces and project-based learning space opportunities. The $3.7 million matching bond would still be required.”
WHY DOES THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL COST MORE THAN THE MOFFAT SCHOOL?
Moffat’s new school was completed in August 2015, four years ahead of Mountain Valley’s scheduled completion of August 2019. According to NV5, the owner’s representatives for Moffat during their project, school construction costs have escalated more than 10% per year for rural and mountain communities. That is at least a 40% increase in construction costs. The Moffat School’s final cost was close to $18.3 million for 47,000 square feet of space or $390 per square foot. When current construction cost escalations are factored in, projected costs for Moffat’s school would be much higher in today’s market. Mountain Valley’s $31 million project is 67,000 square feet and works out to $462 per square foot. The Mountain Valley School will have additional student and community spaces, which include a gym and auxiliary gym, weight room, stage, media center, community garden, football field, rubberized track and a fitness trail. The new facility at Mountain Valley will be more than a school for students; it will be a welcoming space for our community and families.
WILL WE KEEP ANY OF THE BUILDINGS WE ALREADY HAVE?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan allows the Middle School building to be repurposed as a Transportation and Maintenance facility.
HOW DISRUPTIVE WILL THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS BE TO THE EDUCATION PROCESS?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan shows that the new school will be built and opened before vacating the old buildings.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO DO THIS NOW? ARE OUR CURRENT BUILDINGS NO LONGER SAFE?
During the 2017 BEST Grant application process, Mountain Valley School District was the top-ranked school in the state needing new educational facilities. Our buildings currently exhibit numerous safety, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roofing issues, as well as other urgent needs. In addition, there is only a limited amount of BEST funding available for projects like the one Mountain Valley School District has been awarded. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity to provide a much-needed new PreK-12 facility for our students, families, and community. With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, our district will never be able to improve our facilities situation and provide both today’s and tomorrow’s students with the safe and modern facilities they deserve. This $27 million BEST Grant funding opportunity may never be offered to Mountain Valley School again. Moffat, Creede, Sanford, South Conejos, Sargent, Alamosa, Monte Vista, Sangre De Cristo and Centennial schools have already built new and modern facilities with BEST funding.
HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW SCHOOL COST ME AS A TAXPAYER IF I OWN A HOUSE OR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY IN THE DISTRICT?
If your property’s assessed value is $25,000, your tax impact will be about $2.34 per month or $28.02 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $50,000, your tax impact will be about $4.67 per month or $56.04 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $75,000, your tax impact will be about $7.00 per month or $84.06 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $100,000, your tax impact will be about $9.34 per month or $112.08 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $125,000, your tax impact will be about $11.68 per month or $140.10 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $150,000, your tax impact will be about $14.01per month or $168.12 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $175,000, your tax impact will be about $16.35 per month or $196.14 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $200,000, your tax impact will be about $18.68 per month or $224.16 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $225,000, your tax impact will be about $21.02 per month or $252.18 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $250,000, your tax impact will be about $23.35 per month or $280.20 per year.
HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW SCHOOL COST ME AS A TAXPAYER IF I OWN COMMERCIAL OR AGRICULTURE PROPERTY IN THE DISTRICT?
For business and agricultural owners, the tax impact for every $100,000 of assessed commercial or agricultural property will be about $37.36 per month or $448.32 per year.
WHAT HAPPENS IF VOTERS DO NOT APPROVE THE 2017 BOND DURING THE NOVEMBER 7, 2017 ELECTION?
If the November 2017 bond fails, the $27 million BEST Grant awarded to Mountain Valley School District reverts back to the State of Colorado to be distributed to another school district that is willing to meet its BEST Grant match requirement. The first district in line to receive this money if we fail to pass our 2017 Bond is Mancos School District, which has already been selected by the BEST Grant Board as an alternate project should any project ahead of them fail to provide their match this November. If the bond fails, Mountain Valley School District will not have the necessary funding to address current safety issues and failing systems. BEST Grant funding is dwindling, and there is no guarantee that state funding will ever be available again to help our school.
NEED MORE FACTUAL INFORMATION?
If you still need more information regarding the new school at Mountain Valley, please stop by the school and visit with me. Factual information can also be found at BEST for MVS and The Superintendent’s Corner websites.
Thank you for taking the time to become an informed voter!