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Englewood, Ignacio get lucky

The state Capital Construction Assistance Board on Thursday awarded Building Excellent Schools Today grants to the Englewood and Ignacio school districts, giving them funds left on the table after other districts failed to pass the bond issues necessary to provide matching money.

Englewood and Ignacio were designated as alternates when the board made its 2011-12 BEST awards last June. Eleven projects originally were awarded grants. Five raised their local matches at the ballot box Tuesday, two failed and four didn’t require bond issues.

Three other alternates also failed to pass bond issues, clearing the way for Englewood and Ignacio.

But the money’s not completely in the bank for Ignacio, a low-income, 750-student district that straddles the La Plata-Archuleta County line southeast of Durango. That’s because the vote tally on the district’s proposed $4.7 million bond issue is tied 523 yes to 523 note.

If the tie isn’t broken after review of ballots that lacked signatures and overseas ballots, a recount will be conducted on Nov. 14, construction division director Ted Hughes told the board.

That could present a problem, because Nov. 17 is the date for sale of the certificates of participation – a form of lease-purchase agreement – that are used to finance larger BEST projects. State funds and district matches are used to pay off the certificates.

Still, the board decided to elevate Ignacio to the finalist list. It can be pulled out later and the money used next year if the district bond issue ultimately fails. (In the event of a tie, a ballot measure fails.)

Ignacio’s project, a total of $14.9 million in state and local funds, would renovate an existing middle school into a K-5 facility.

Englewood’s BEST project is a $17.4 million renovation and conversion of a middle school into an alternative high school. Englewood voters narrowly passed a $50 million bond issue, $8.1 million of it for the BEST match and the remainder for other projects.

Other BEST finalists that passed their matches are the Big Sandy, Ellicott, Idalia, Prairie and Sanford districts. Elbert 200 and Montezuma-Cortez were the two districts whose voters failed to pass matches.

Three other BEST winners are charter schools, the Rocky Mountain Deaf Academy, Eagle County Charter Academy and Horizons K-8 Alternative Charter, which provided their matches in other ways. A fourth charter, Ross Montessori, declined its award because it couldn’t raise its match. The board decided to go ahead with Rocky Mountain Deaf even though the Jefferson County school hasn’t yet obtained land for a new building. If the school can’t get land, the money will be used for other projects next year.

The three alternates whose voters defeated bond issues were Lake County, Peyton and Sheridan.

More information on the BEST program

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