As we look at the needs of our school district and all of the items that may end up on our November ballots, the same question comes up again and again – What happened to all the marijuana money?
The truth is, it was a campaign and there were some misleading statements. If anyone actually read through the legal ballot language, they realized that the money went into the BEST fund for matching grants to districts. Campaigns for things that have nothing to do with schools sadly have misled the public. While it’s great that voters wanted to support public education and realized there were needs, that solution for schools couldn’t be further from the truth no matter how you feel about the legislation.
So, has Jeffco applied for BEST funds? We asked and here’s the answer:
The marijuana tax issue has certainly created a lot of confusion, mostly due to the campaign promising the revenue be distributed to Colorado school districts. That promise is accurate but there is more to the program story
There is a CDE site that outlines the basic premise: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdefinance/capconstbest.
Here is some additional information:
The marijuana tax revenue is partially distributed to the BEST Program, this year an amount of approximately $38M. The BEST Board allocated $20M of the $38M to the current year BEST pool. For the upcoming allocation of dollars from the total BEST pool the applicants/resources look something like this:
- There are 53 applicants requesting $248M, with a share provided by each applicant totaling $125.8M
- Charter requests are $39.4M, their share designated at $14M.
- In the metro area, Mapleton is the only applicant with 2 requests, one of $6.7M and another for $10.8M
- Jeffco Schools has not submitted an application for funds this cycle.
Jeffco Schools has received BEST funding five years ago when we were approved for a $2M grant to complement our local funding from Capital Transfer for the Conifer treatment facility.
Generally, it is our belief that although we can apply for the BEST funding, some of which comes from marijuana tax revenue, in all likelihood there would not be dollars in amounts that could truly help us with our overall needs, such as constructing a new school facility. This does not mean that we may never apply for an award, only that it isn’t currently an attractive source given the many needs statewide, the preferences to assist districts having more dire needs with a lesser ability to raise capital monies, and the actual dollars that we could receive in comparison to our significant needs.
The perception that marijuana dollars are a part of the State K-12 funding allocation distributed to all districts is not the current practice. AS outlined here, the dollars are distributed through the BEST program. This is a good program but can only assist given the amounts that fund the program and following applicant reviews.