Colorado’s Thompson School District has received $5.7 million in state grants funded, in part, by cannabis taxes for improvements at schools throughout the district, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. The cannabis-derived funds will be added to $12.2 million in grant money from a 2018 voter-approved bond for the projects.
The Build Excellent Schools Today is a statewide competitive grant program funded by cannabis taxes, the Colorado Lottery, and the Colorado State Land Board. The district will use the funds to repair roofs at four schools, secure entryways at four schools, and conduct mechanical work at seven schools, the report says.
In all, 36 projects totaling nearly $235 million will be funded by the BEST program; there were 67 total applications. Thompson was the only district to have three projects approved, Todd Piccone, the district’s chief operations officer, told the Reporter-Herald. He added that without the BEST funding, the district would have been unable to complete the entryway work at the middle schools, which cost $262,680.
In June 2019, Colorado surpassed $1 billion in revenue from cannabis-derived taxes and fees. Under the state’s adult-use law, 90 percent or $40 million – whichever is greater – of the 15 percent excise tax on wholesale retail cannabis is used for the BEST program. According to the state Department of Education, the state has dispersed $40 million each year since 2016. In the 2015-2016 year, voters approved an additional $40 million, bringing that year’s total to $80 million.
Of the 15 percent special tax on retail sales, 12.59 percent is diverted to the Public School Fund which is distributed to all of the state’s districts.
Additionally, cannabis taxes in the state have contributed $14.2 million to the Early Literacy Grant Program since 2016; $28.4 million to the School Health Professional Grant Program since 2016; and $6.9 million each to the School Bullying Prevention and Education Grant, and Drop-Out Prevention programs since 2015.
Since 2015, cannabis-derived taxes have contributed $230.8 million to Colorado Department of Education funding.