Marijuana taxes partially fund new elementary school in small town

HUDSON, Colo. -- The tiny town of Hudson in northeastern Colorado is building its first elementary school since 1962.

And some of that money is coming from potheads.

The new Hudson Academy of Arts and Sciences will cost more than $15 million to build.

The school won a grant of $4.2 million, paid in part with marijuana taxes.

The Weld County Re-3j School District came up with 78 percent of the money through a bond vote.

The other 22 percent comes from the state's Building Excellent Schools Today program. About 5.5 percent of that comes from marijuana taxes.

"I would thank them. Yah," principal Greg Dent said. “It’s great money to use to fund our kids’ future in education.”

The current school for about 330 students was not making the grade. There's asbestos throughout the building. It's 55 years behind today's technology.

"When the building was built, technology was not a big component in education. And as you can also see, we still have chalkboards," Dent said.

And school violence hadn't entered the public conscience yet.

"School security was not even an issue. And now it is," he said.

The new building will have a secure entrance. Visitors will have to be checked in and let into the building through a buzzer system.

Parents say the state-of-the-art school earns an A-plus, especially because it keeps kids and their families close to home.

"If we didn’t have the new school, we’d be splitting up our kids and going to different area schools. It’s a lot of travel for a lot of people that can just walk here," says Maria Chavez, whose two kids went to the school and whose nieces and nephews still attend.

Without the bond and marijuana money, the school would have closed and kids sent to the district's two other elementary schools.

But now, students and parents can exhale -- thanks in part to those who inhale.

"It's important for all the kids and parents around," Chavez said.

Students will be ready to move into the new school in August.

About 50 schools applied for the BEST grant last year. The state funded about half of them.