Re-1 now looks ahead to November election

School district needs OK to get BEST grant funds

Keywords: Poll question,

A half-off sale is how the Montezuma-Cortez School Board Re-1 characterized the need to move forward with a bond initiative in the November election to match the funds the district received from the Building Excellent Schools Today to build a new high school.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board voted 4-0 to put the bond question before voters in November’s general election. Board members Diane Fox and Eric Whyte did not attend the meeting. Beth Howell was also absent from the meeting after she recently moved and resigned her seat.

The BEST board voted 6-1 June 29 to award the nearly $21 million grant to the Re-1, contingent on the district being able to have a way to match the grant amount.

In Tuesday night’s work session, Board member Jack Schuenemeyer said a good portion of the $21 million grant the Re-1 received is Front Range money, not funds from Montezuma County.

Superintendent Alex Carter used the analogy of a rancher needing to purchase a tractor with the options of getting one for half price immediately or waiting a year to buy the tractor at full price.

The school district plans to inform the local community and business owners of the positive economic impacts that a new high school would bring, which would include more than $40 million of materials and construction coming into Cortez.

“It will be a (building) of community pride,” Carter said.

The superintendent, who officially started with Re-1 at the first of the month, said the grant gives the community a chance to address a school building that is falling apart at half the cost rather than waiting to build a new high school at full price.

Carter also said this will be the district’s final chance to build the school at the discounted cost, since Carter was told by BEST officials last month that this would be the final year that BEST grants will be available.

Schuenemeyer said there is no question that there are other needs facing the district, but Re-1 must move forward on the “half-off sale” for the new high school, then address the other needs of the school district.

Carter also said it makes little sense to repair a building that he said is too small and does not fully serve the needs of Re-1.

The school district will now need to come up with a plan on how to inform the public and voters on the importance of the bond issue.

The exact question that will appear on the November election ballot has not been determined yet.

Carter said if the community approves the bond, Cortez’s new high school would be unmatched when compared to other high schools on the Western Slope.

Reach Michael Maresh at michaelm@cortezjournal.com