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Grant sought for DMS construction

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Photo by Pat Sunderland School board members Jill Jurca, Ron Germann and Tammy Smith tour the sixth grade wing of Delta Middle School with principal Jenn Ervin, superintendent Caryn Gibson and maintenance supervisor John McHugh (not pictured). The school

A grant application that would have funded an addition to Delta Middle School did not receive priority from the Colorado Department of Education, but has been placed in the "backup" category.

Delta County Joint School District #50 submitted an application for a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant in the amount of $11.3 million, pledging a matching contribution of $3.4 million for the Delta Middle School project. Previously, the school district leveraged BEST funds for construction at Cedaredge and Garnet Mesa elementary schools.

The matching contribution is about 23 percent of the total project estimate of $14.7 million. That strategy was successful for Cedaredge Elementary School, but may be one reason Delta Middle School did not rank higher in this grant cycle. Typically, explained assistant school superintendent Kurt Clay, BEST grants require a 55 percent matching contribution.

"I think that's why we were denied, so now the backup plan is to look at how to come up to 55 percent, or $8 million. We have to figure out whether we go to the voters for that other piece, or try to get a loan, or certificate of participation, as we did with the Cedaredge building. We do know that Delta Middle School improvements are a high priority."

To address both facility needs and security issues, the school district proposes demolishing the cafeteria and sixth grade wing at DMS. The current building would be enlarged to accommodate the cafeteria, music and band rooms (which are located across campus), as well as classrooms for the sixth grade and special needs students.

Both the cafeteria and sixth grade wing are aging buildings in need of plumbing and mechanical upgrades. While critical maintenance issues are being addressed as they come up, there's a need to look at the system as a whole, from the roof to electrical usage to ADA compliant restrooms.

As for security, DMS students move among five separate buildings and must cross the parking lot and bus loop to get from the main building to the cafeteria.

"Site and building security demands in today's schools are critical factors to consider, but the use of multiple buildings and motor vehicles in and around students' migration path cannot be acceptable," the grant application states.

Established by the state Legislature in 2008, 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.

The Colorado Department of Education received 53 grant applications for the 2016-17 BEST grant cycle. Applicants requested $125.8 million in BEST funds, and promised $123 million in matching funds.

Of those 53 grant applications, 31 were recommended for funding. There are 12 backup grant applications which could move up on the list of priorities if one of the top 31 applicants fails to come up with its matching contribution. Clay explained some of the matching contributions are contingent upon voter approval for bonds.

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