Poudre School District will not receive marijuana tax money

Rachel Musselmann

Revenue from legalized marijuana taxes is not going to public Fort Collins schools.

Many who voted for Colorado’s Amendment 64 hoped the taxation on legalized marijuana would significantly boost school funding. However, Poudre School District will not be receiving any of this funding, according to Nancy Tellez, PSD board of education director.

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As part of Amendment 64, the first $40 million raised through marijuana taxes is allotted to capital improvements in K-12 schools.

The Building Excellent Schools Now grant fund, or BEST, is the only educational support grant funded by marijuana taxes, and Poudre School District will not be applying, said Scott Newell, managing director of BEST.

Nancy Tellez said applying for BEST was a waste of staff resources, as PSD will not qualify for the need-based grant.

“My contacts in BEST have informed me PSD does not meet requirements for BEST money,” Tellez said. “BEST is very targeted on health and safety, and PSD’s air conditioning needs are not a top priority right now.”

According to Newell, the grant’s first concern is health and safety, then overcrowding and finally technology.

“We have helped with everything from new roofs and boilers, to security systems in all four corners of the state,” Newell said. “Unfortunately for PSD, there are schools with greater needs than temperature control at this time.”

Newell said marijuana tax revenue has added a 16 percent increase to grant funds.

“It’s not a lot of money, but we can help several projects with those dollars,” Newell said. “This is only the first year for this type of revenue.”

CSU freshman Linnae Sidinger, a graduate of Poudre School District, said she voted to legalize marijuana solely to add to school funding.

“I’m not a big fan of weed but I was willing to support schools,” Sidinger said. “I’m disappointed to hear Poudre School District won’t be receiving funds.”

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Sidinger said the need for air conditioning might be more serious than BEST board members think.

“It might not be a huge issue, but I know that sitting in class sweating to death is not going to be too productive, especially for littler kids who might not think to stay hydrated,” Sidinger said.

Sidinger said she thinks marijuana funds could be more spread out in the grant system.

“The government should even out the playing field so more Colorado residents can actually see the benefits of the law they voted for,” Sidinger said.

Collegian Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rmusselmann.