Grand Lake board pledges $20,000 for schools |

Grand Lake board pledges $20,000 for schools

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Grand Lake, CO Colorado

The Town of Grand Lake is pledging $20,000 to the East Grand School District to help keep schools open and ultimately improve education.

Using budgeted funds the town ended up not using to support the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce during its fiscal crisis last fall, the town is pledging to redirect the $20,000 to schools.

The funds are being presented to the Grand Lake area community in the form of a matching grant to form a “public-private partnership.”

“It’s a ‘community’ problem, not a town government problem,” said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke.

Town officials are hoping the Grand Lake Community Parent Teacher Association can help in fundraising efforts to match the money. Town officials also expressed engaging other districts in the Grand Lake area to contribute to the “public challenge grant.”

“Since I have been on this board, this has been one of the most important issues that has come up,” said Town Trustee Benton Johnson, who before agreeing to the pledge, said his mind said ‘no’ to using town funds to help schools, but his heart said ‘yes.’

Trustee Elmer Lanzi seemed the most reluctant of trustees to move forward with the pledge, saying the town’s true function was maintaining infrastructure and that “turning money over to the school board was like a black hole.”

But he ultimately agreed to the possible $20,000 expenditure.

“Putting a kindergartner on a bus for a 30-minute bus ride – It’s immoral,” Lanzi said. “It’s a Third World solution.”

Town Manager Shane Hale suggested the funds – which originally had been budgeted as an advance of business license funds to the chamber, until the chamber board expressed it did not need the money following a fall 2010 IRS audit – be re-budgeted in the 2012 town budget to help the district keep schools open in the second half of the 2011-2012 school year.

By town budgeting time, he said, town officials may know whether a possible sales-tax ballot question in November has passed. If it makes the ballot and passes, there is the possibility the school district wouldn’t need the contribution after all.

Hale suggested the town formulate a list of conditions as part of the pledge agreement with the school district, such as a promise that the Grand Lake-area money buys keeping the Grand Lake Elementary School open for the full year next year.

Meanwhile, the town of Grand Lake along with other government entities will be determining how to legally funnel the money to the district.

Legally, one taxing entity cannot donate money to another taxing entity, so town administrators are exploring channeling funds through the Grand Foundation or possibly the Grand Lake Community PTA.

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