Marijuana was legalized in Colorado for retail sale in 2013, with many residents voting for the legalization under the assumption that schools would see a portion of the tax revenue, but schools in the Poudre School District, many of which don’t even have air conditioning, won’t be seeing any of that money. Parents in the Fort-Collins area, where schools are in desperate need of funding, aren’t happy, as reported by The Coloradoan.
The legalization promised that the first $40 million collected in retail marijuana tax revenue would be used to help the 178 public school districts in Colorado. The tax goes to the capital construction assistance fund and is then transferred to a competitive grant program called BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today). The funding can be used for renovations, addressing public health or safety issues, or building new schools. BEST typically funds schools that are in dire need of assistance, and the PSD has no immediate plans to apply for a grant, believing that it’s unnecessary, but many parents in the school district disagree, citing a lack of air conditioning in classrooms among other things.
Getting a BEST grant can be competitive: typically, BEST gets three time the requests that it ends up funding. Funding in the 2014-2015 period didn’t include marijuana tax revenue, so this year, there should be more room in the budget for completing projects. Even with the extra revenue, BEST say that air conditioning in PSD schools is not a high priority compared to many of the other requests they’ve received. Even with the marijuana revenue, they’re under-funded.
Tax revenue from marijuana sales is increasing as more and more counties allow pot shops to run in their communities. Even after marijuana was legalized in Colorado, sales took a little time to get off the ground, but as they increase, so should tax revenue, some of which should trickle down to the schools. It can be a little hard to predict how much revenue will be coming in from marijuana sales, as it’s a relatively new system, but the numbers are looking good. As marijuana sales have increased, so has the budget for public schools.
A recent social media survey showed that the majority of Colorado residents believe that the PSD deserves a portion of funding from the revenue gained from the marijuana tax. Some believe that the schools should not have to apply for grants in the first place, with others thinking that the school district should have applied for grants since they were available. Air conditioning is important to improve focus and overall comfort of students, and the people of Colorado seem to think it is worthy of marijuana revenue.