DENVER—Today the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed HB08-1335, which would address health and safety issues by providing funds to rebuild, repair or replace our most dangerous and most needy K-12 facilities.
Sponsored by Senate President Peter Groff (D-Denver) and Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), the bill calls for a statewide needs assessment for the selection of schools and projects, and leverages as much as $1 billion in funds while keeping within our balanced budget.
“It’s time the state steps up to address the condition of our schools, especially those in our rural districts,” Schwartz said. “We included measures in this bill to give schools a fighting chance to teach their children in safe environments.”
Colorado's public school buildings across the state are aging. Hazards include failing roofs, structural problems, inadequate fire safety, faulty and dangerous boilers, asbestos and carbon monoxide contamination.
“By investing in school safety we are also investing in the overall education of Colorado students,” Groff said. “This bill not only offers a solution to crumbling schools, but it does it in way that is fiscally reasonable.”
The plan will leverage $30-40 million of revenue annually from the School Trust Lands to raise up to $500 million in capital. Local matching could raise another $400-500 million, bringing the total to nearly one billion dollars, enough to repair hundreds of existing schools or to build scores of new ones.
The School Trust Lands are property the federal government granted to the state in 1876 for the benefit of Colorado’s schoolchildren.
HB08-1335 next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.