Senate gives initial backing to survey of school buildings |

Senate gives initial backing to survey of school buildings

COLLEEN SLEVINthe associated press

DENVER – The state would spend about $600,000 to survey the condition of school buildings in the state’s smallest and poorest districts under a measure given initial approval by the Senate on Thursday.The proposal (Senate Bill 41) would also require a statewide study of school buildings and the development of safety standards, allowing school districts to use up to $6 million over the following two years if they need help assessing their buildings.Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, said the state spends millions to build and repair schools and taxpayers deserve to know that the money is being spent wisely. She said many rural districts don’t have someone in charge of maintaining their buildings and may not realize that when they spend money for a new boiler they may also need a new roof.The money for the studies would come from Powerball lottery revenue set aside to help build and maintain rural schools. The state agreed to spend more money on rural schools after settling a lawsuit in 2000.Republicans assailed the idea because they said it didn’t make sense to spend so much money on studies when there are so many schools in need of repair. Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, said the standards the bill would create could be used against the state in another case now in court and any future ones.School advocates are seeking between $5.7 and $10 billion dollars in unmet construction and maintenance costs in the current case. The state won the first round but that decision has been appealed. A decision isn’t expected until later this year.”The bottom line is that it is my job is to defend the state in lawsuits and I’ll continue to do that,” Suthers said. He laid out his concerns in a letter to the governor, the Senate president and House speaker last month.

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