Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Press Release: $87m for School Construction Financing





Eric Rothaus, (303) 866-4951,

Program Brings Schools, Jobs to San Luis Valley

Denver-- State Treasurer Cary Kennedy today kicked off the next step in the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, having secured financing to start work on four new schools in the San Luis Valley. The schools will replace ones that had serious health and safety risks.

"For too long, students in the Alamosa, Sangre de Cristo, and Sargent school districts have attended school in aging and deteriorating buildings with mold, leaky roofs, and crumbling foundations," said Kennedy. "With the financing provided today, the students in each of these districts will get a new, modern, top-rate school."

The first BEST installment will provide $87 million to replace two elementary schools in Alamosa, replace the elementary, middle and high school in the Sangre de Cristo district, and replace the high school in Sargent. Most of the buildings being replaced were constructed in the 1920s.

In 2007, Kennedy worked with legislators to develop the BEST program, which directs income from the state's School Trust Lands to school renovation. Under BEST, Colorado will dedicate up to $500 million in capital construction for schools which will be matched with local voter-approved funds. In total, BEST will provide close to $1 billion to K-12 capital construction over the next several years -- the largest state investment in school construction in Colorado's history.

The schools will be financed using the Qualified School Construction Bond program (QSCB) from the Recovery Act. QSCBs are a new financing structure that allows public entities to borrow at zero percent interest to finance K-12 capital construction. The federal government pays the interest on the projects. This structure lowered the costs of the projects by approximately $45 million when compared to traditional tax-exempt financing.

The Treasurer was instrumental in passing legislation in Colorado to authorize the use of QSCBs. The $87 million issue is the largest QSCB issued nationally to date.

Don Elliman, Chair of the Colorado Economic Recovery Accountability Board, joined Kennedy at the press conference in Denver.

"This is a wonderful example of how Colorado's leadership took the right steps to quickly take advantage of Recovery Act funds to finance the construction of new schools, create jobs, and save taxpayers millions of dollars in the process," said Elliman, who also serves as Chief Operating Officer for the State of Colorado. "This is a very exciting day for Colorado."

Representatives of Guggenheim Partners, the investment firm that purchased the $87 million allotment from the state, were in Denver this week to finalize the deal and celebrate the BEST kickoff.

"The BEST program is an innovative solution that will have an immediate, tangible impact not only on the region's children, but also on the broader community," said Scott Minerd, Chief Investment Officer of Guggenheim Partners. "Being part of a project that has such a direct benefit to the educational experience of current and future students and to the area's economy is especially gratifying. I applaud the efforts of Treasurer Kennedy and the Colorado legislators for making this program a reality."

BEST works as a partnership between the State and local school districts. Earlier this year, the Colorado State Board of Education approved grants to 11 districts with total project costs of $98.5 million. Local district contributions total $22 million, with the State putting up the rest of the funding.

The first grants were distributed to the following school districts:

  • Alamosa School District RE-11J; two new elementary schools will replace three elementary schools; Alamosa County
  • Buffalo School District RE-4; junior/senior high school renovation/addition; Logan County
  • Centennial School District R-1; new PK-12 school; Costilla County
  • Edison School District 54-JT; new elementary school; El Paso County
  • Holly School District RE-3; partial roof replacement; Prowers County
  • Mountain Valley School District RE-1; roofing and repair under designed structure; Saguache County
  • Pueblo City Schools; final phase to district-wide fire and security; Pueblo County
  • Sangre De Cristo School District RE-22J; new PK-12 school; Alamosa County
  • Sargent School District RE-33J; new junior/senior high school and elementary school renovation; Rio Grande County
  • South Routt School District RE-3; district-wide HVAC replacement with renewable technology; Routt County
  • Weldon Valley School District RE-20(J); core area remodel, physical education and athletic facilities upgrade; Morgan County