State BEST grant aids Roaring Fork Schools’ security upgrades | PostIndependent.com

State BEST grant aids Roaring Fork Schools’ security upgrades

The Roaring Fork School District has been awarded a state Building Excellent Schools Today grant that will allow it to extend the many security-related upgrades. Those are part of the ongoing bond construction projects.

The district received a $531,909 grant through the BEST program, which is administered by the Colorado Department of Education and partially funded from taxes on legalized marijuana.

Funding is intended to help pay for "safe, secure and welcoming" entry vestibules at Glenwood Springs Middle, Carbondale Middle, Bridges High, Basalt Elementary, Basalt Middle and Basalt High schools.

Similar upgrades have already been made at other district schools, including Roaring Fork High and Crystal River Elementary schools in Carbondale. The new Riverview School and the new addition at Glenwood Springs Elementary School will have similar security features.

The state grant will also provide partial funding for security camera upgrades and access card readers at the schools.

Much of the work has already been paid for as part of the $122-million bond issue district voters approved in 2015. The bond money served as matching funds for the BEST grant.

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"We are so grateful to our communities for their support to pass this bond," Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said in a news release. "This grant funding will allow our bond dollars to go further in improving our facilities for 21st century learning."

Stein also gave credit to the district's owner representative on the bond projects, NV5, for helping to obtain the grant.

"NV5 has been a great partner and has lived up to their promise to make sure our bond dollars go as far as possible and to look for additional resources and funding opportunities," he said.

The district's grant application scored in the top five out of the 50 applications submitted to the state for the latest funding cycle.

Roaring Fork Schools have benefited from past BEST grants, as well. The district was awarded more than $9.1 million to partially fund the addition and renovation at Glenwood Springs Elementary, prior to the bond passing. The successful bond measure meant the GSES project could proceed.

"The district made a commitment to our community that we would explore avenues to leverage our bond funding with grant programs, and I'm happy to report we have been successful with BEST and other grant applications," Stein said.

The majority of the facilities, including most of the new Riverview School and the new addition at GSES, are on track to be completed at the start of the 2017-18 school year. Some work will continue at Riverview after school starts, and once the new GSES addition is complete, work will begin on renovation of the historic old school building.