Post Reiterates Support for BEST
In a Sunday editorial, the Denver Post praised State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Senate President Peter Groff and Senator Gail Schwartz for their roles in creating H.B. 1335, the Build Excellent Schools Today (BEST) plan:
State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, a key architect of the Romanoff/Groff plan, reports that 80 Colorado school districts have such a small tax base that even if they issue the maximum amount of bonds they are permitted by law, they can’t raise enough money for even one new building.
Students in such poor districts not only have to cope with dilapidated and inadequate facilities, they often face real health and safety risks: including failing roofs, structural problems, inadequate fire safety, faulty and even dangerous boilers and the risk of contamination by asbestos and carbon monoxide.
HB 1335 . . . will begin to close that gap by leveraging up to $40 million in annual revenue from about 3 million acres of public school trust lands given to Colorado when we entered the union. That tactic would raise up to $500 million in bonds to repair or replace school buildings. With local matching funds, the program could provide up to $1 billion – enough to build 125 new elementary schools at an average cost of $8 million each, by Kennedy’s estimate.
That money won’t build any country clubs. But it will give thousands of Colorado children the fair start in life promised to them in 1876.
H.B. 1335 has passed both the House and the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his signature once minor differences between the House and Senate versions are worked out.
When Great Education Colorado and Children’s Voices took Speaker Romanoff on the first of a series of school tours last June, we hoped that the visits might spur some concern on the part of state leaders. Though it will only begin to address the vast capital problems facing Colorado schools, the B.E.S.T. plan far exceeded our most optimistic expectations and stands as a testament to the dedication, concern and creativity of leaders like Romanoff and Kennedy. We owe them a debt of gratitude.