Moffat County School District holds workshop to discuss potential bond
MCSD announces it wasn't awarded a BEST grant this year, which could lead to the district asking for a bond ballot issue for November.
Moffat County School District’s Board of Education held a special workshop meeting Wednesday night via Zoom to discuss possible budget issues for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
The Board of Education also discussed how to proceed forward with a potential bond issue for the November ballot Wednesday night after outgoing MCSD Superintendent David Ulrich revealed that the district did not receive a single BEST grant that it had applied for.
BEST grants are competitive grants paid for by marijuana tax money revenue that goes to school districts for capital needs. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.
With no funding from BEST grants coming, the district has to find a way to come up with roughly $25m to complete the most pressing construction projects in the district to get another generation (25-30 years) out of buildings in the district.
During an April 17 virtual meeting, BOE members discussed potential bond packages to move forward with. One of the packages discussed involved a $25m taxpayer-funded bond with no BEST grant money.
On Wednesday night, BOE members discussed how to move forward with no BEST grant dollars with Lisa Relou, a consultant to the district.
“While we’re not getting the BEST grants, the fact is, these needs [for the district’s buildings] aren’t going away,” Ulrich said. “…we know this work has to get done, and we need to ask our community to contribute more.”
While Ulrich did say that the BOE knows it must move forward with a bond ask on the November ballot, the district has not sent anything out to its community asking for a specific amount of funds yet.
“Now that we have an answer from the BEST grant, we have to figure out exactly what we’re asking for and to communicate that to the community,” Relou said.
One issue the BOE has to tackle quickly is conducting a staff survey to get an understanding of where the district’s staff stands on the bond issue. The board was going to conduct a staff survey in the spring, but ultimately decided against it as they waited for BEST grant news.
Now, with no BEST grant funds, the district could be forced to scramble to conduct a staff survey before asking the public for a bond issue.
“We need to do that,” said Chris Thome, a BOE member. “I think a staff buy-in is a big piece to this entire process. I’d hate to go to the public without first checking with the staff and finding their support. If they [the staff] can’t support it, we can’t go to the public.”
Relou followed up by asking Thome if the district should just go a step forward and expand the survey to ask parents.
“It couldn’t hurt,” Thome said. “The parents are going to have to vote on it. But if we have staff support, it might make it easier for the parents to support it.”
The news of the BEST grants and a possible bond issue forthcoming comes on the heels of the school board declaring a fiscal emergency Monday morning.
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