By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources http://bit.ly/18PeeI2
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 :: Roughly 118 school districts with shovel-ready construction projects are set to receive badly-needed state support as soon as next week, officials said Tuesday.
The State Allocation Board, which oversees the School Facility Program, has called a special meeting Monday to formally approve cash awards totaling $296.8 million – state matching funds for districts with previously-approved construction projects.
The money is being issued by the California State Treasurer’s office through a complex financial transaction tied to an upcoming sale of state bonds previously authorized by voters specifically for construction and modernization of school facilities.
While most of the available bond authority – the total amount approved by voters – has been allocated to a long list of approved school projects, the cash becomes available only as the bonds are sold.
Until then, districts and their projects remain on an SAB ‘unfunded list’ awaiting an apportionment of state funds.
The projects receiving apportionments on Monday will then have 90 days under the School Facility Program’s Priority Funding process to submit to the Office of Public School Construction a valid ‘fund release authorization’ certifying that one, the district has the local matching funds needed for the project and, two, that it has entered into contracts for at least 50 percent of the construction work.
The SAB created the Priority Funding program to expedite timelines for those projects considered to be ‘shovel-ready.’
But under new regulations adopted last March, districts on the list that receive an apportionment but do not submit the fund release form within 90 days are deemed to have one occurrence of non-participation. Any district project that incurs two non-participation occurrences will be removed from the unfunded list and have its funding apportionment rescinded.
The non-participation regulations were instituted because many districts remained on the priority list without moving forward, thereby holding up funding that could go to other projects that truly are shovel-ready.
Since its establishment in 1998, the School Facility Program has benefitted from $35 billion in voter-approved statewide facilities bonds.
No new statewide bonds have been approved since Proposition 1D in 2006.
State officials have been grappling with how to continue the program in the absence of new funding, including pushing for a new bond initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
Concerns are, however, that competing needs, such as transportation and water, will take precedence over school facilities.
Meanwhile, OPSC staff continues to collect district applications for state funding despite the fact that there is no additional bond authority with which to fund them.
To view a list of the districts scheduled to receive a cash apportionment on Monday, go here.