Re-1 wins $21M BEST grant approval

It was good news for Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 officials.

They were notified Friday morning by the Building Excellent Schools Today Board that Re-1’s $21 million grant request to help build a new high school for the school district was approved.

Superintendent Alex Carter and board member Jack Schuenemeyer flew to Denver this past week to present its case to the BEST board.

Re-1 was one of 70 school districts across the state that made pitches to the BEST board this week.

Carter said the recommendation still has to go before the state board, but he called that a formality.

However, the awarding of the grant money is contingent on Re-1 being able to convince residents to approve a $21 million bond resolution in the November election as the grant is a 50-50 match.

Last year, a bond issue was voted down for a matching grant for Southwest Open Schools after they received a BEST grant.

Carter said a lot more work needs to be done, saying Friday’s decision was just the first step.

“Right now we need to organize and plan on a strategy to put (the bond question) on the ballot,” he said, adding the district needs to get the message out to the community on the importance and the opportunity that is before them.

“This is just an opportunity to give our kids a chance to succeed into the 21st century,” he said.

Re-1 asked for the highest grant amount from BEST when adding the match amount that is another $21 million. When not adding the match amount, the grant requested amount was the second highest in the state.

The Re-1 school board appointed Carter’s secretary, Linda Diffendaffer, as the person who would be in charge of the bond election for the district.

Re-1 was one of 26 school districts in the state that was placed on the short list.

The BEST board prioritized the districts on that list because there is only so much money available.

The Southwest Open Charter School’s request grant for a new campus was rejected this year.

The Dolores School District’s grant request of roughly $10 million for a vocational technology/science replacement, safety and security upgrades and classroom additions as well as other construction items was approved.

Since the Re-1 school district and the Dolores School District are in separate districts within the county, there will be two separate ballots with different voters.

Reach Michael Maresh at michaelm@cortezjournal.com