COLORADO SPRINGS— The Colorado Education Department (CDE) is giving $110 million to schools for safety improvements and renovations. This is part of the program Building Excellence Schools Today (BEST), which started in 2018.
17 school projects are being funded so far this year.
"Our main purpose is to address health, safety, and security in those facilities' its definitely needed," said the CDE Capital Construction Director Andy Stine.
Atlas Middle School is getting $14.1 million dollars to address safety concerns.
The school is two buildings that have 52 different entrances. It was originally a strip mall, built in the 1980s.
"Some safety and health concerns have popped up," said the Atlas Preparatory School executive director Brittney Stroh.
Right now, students have to walk outside to go to lunch and gym class.
"It wasn't that much of a big of a deal, we were just going outside for a little bit, plus you got fresh air as well," said Poitier Homes, a former student.
He said he wished there was a proper gym.
"Cause we didn't have a gym in there, we used the lunch room as a gym, wasn't really that big," said Homes.
With this grant, one middle school building will expand while the other gets knocked down to become a recess field and allow room for a gym.
Schools also help with costs. Atlas Middle School is putting in $6 million toward its own renovations.
"And they are giving more than what's actually required of them," said Stine.
Stine said this is called 'matching,' which helps these projects possible across the state. There were 54 schools that applied for a grant.
"500 million dollars in requests and only 110 million to award so those matches go a long way in helping us spread the money around the state," said Stine.
Atlas Middle School renovations are planned to start in the middle of the next school year. It could last up to eight months.
Stroh said student learning will not be disrupted during construction because the building won't get torn down until the new extension is built.
"I think we're just really happy that this opportunity exists for schools and that it can be there to support our community who really deserves it," said Stroh.
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