News Briefs: Colorado Public Schools $18 billion renovation needs

Published April 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 4

Colorado Public Schools need close to $18 billion in renovations, maintenance repairs and energy upgrades according to statewide study released in March.

The Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board conducted a facility test of all 8,419 Colorado kindergarten though 12th-grade buildings.

Evaluators concluded that the buildings are in need of $9.4 billion for deferred maintenance work by 2013. Additionally, $13.9 billion is needed to renovate classrooms in order to meet 21st-century codes and for energy projects and repairs. The remaining $3.9 billion is estimated for further repairs between 2014 and 2018.

This was the first statewide evaluation of school building conditions, according to Capital Construction Assistance Division Director Ted Hughes.

The multi-billion-dollar evaluation coincides with the 8.7 percent budget cuts  to Colorado public schools. 

2008 Building Excellent Schools Today, a program that school districts have the option to apply to, required the study.

BEST assists districts in setting priorities and encouraging the use of local, matching grants for these projects. Top priorities include health and safety issues followed by overcrowding relief and technology projects.

Two Alamosa elementary schools, a high school in Sargent and schools in the Sangre de Cristo district received $87 million for projects last August. 

The next phase is expected to amount to $147 million for school construction needs.

-- Kimberly Gunning

Local Buzz: Mental Health Cuts

Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9

by Dwayne Pride
photographs by Adrian Diubaldo

 

“The difference between the closings before and the closings now is that this time half of the hospital will be closing down.”
—Steve Wager

As the state budget gets carved up, Colorado residents, state workers, service providers and clients are all scrambling to figure out what the looming budget cuts mean for them. One area of concern is among the health and human services. These services are directly responsible for supporting homeless and poor people in the metro area and across the state, a portion of whom are considered disabled. Fort Logan Mental Health Center is among the organizations taking large cuts to balance the budget, and the cuts could mean as many as 200 people won’t get needed mental health services.

Fort Logan provides hospital services for the mentally ill. It serves patients with complex, serious and persistent mental illnesses. There are 153 inpatient beds and 20 residential beds. Each year about 650 patients are admitted, according to hospital admissions at Fort Logan. Cuts could mean that most of these patients would need to be redirected to other institutional facilities or not hospitalized at all.

Fort Logan Mental Health Institute is losing much of its resources due to state budget reform.  Beds and employee hours are being cut, leaving employees unhappy and many homeless people without a place to recuperate. Photo by ADRIAN DIUBALDO.

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Feature: Navigating the Recession - Cuts to education and human services possible in Colorado

Published February 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 1

by Hank Lacey

The nation’s economy is sinking deeper into the worst recession in decades.  More and more Coloradans are suffering stagnant wages, loss of health insurance, unemployment and even the loss of their home.

Driven by deteriorating economic conditions, the Office of Legislative Council says Colorado is facing a budget shortfall of more than $600 million this year and about $300 million for the 2009 fiscal year, which starts July 1.  The consequences are likely to be big cuts to many government services that people all over the state, but especially in the Denver urban area, take for granted.

The state has been down this road before.  Between 2001 and 2003 Colorado faced budget shortfalls that eventually reached about $850 million in FY 2003 and about $900 million in FY 2004. The General Assembly balanced the budget, as the state constitution compels it to do, by imposing across-the-board cuts to state agencies and by using a variety of accounting measures to move expenditures into future years.

This time a solution might not be found so easily. Gov. Bill Ritter said as much during his annual State of the State speech on January 8.

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