by Eric Hall, President of EH&A
EH&A congratulates C.A.S.H. leadership for their hard work in working on prop 51 implementation. Without their perseverance our voice may never have been heard in quite the same way.
This week I took the time to travel to Sacramento on behalf of all of the school districts starving for cash while waiting for promised facility funding. Seven months after 7.5 million voters approved the State School Bond Proposition 51, the State Allocation Board (SAB) finally took action on June 5th to fund $368 M in unfunded projects. Districts in this pool of unfunded projects must submit certifications by end of the day on Friday, June 8th. Hooray for taking action to get some projects funded, but the waiting will continue for many districts.
In a major setback toward funding more school projects, the SAB voted to approve a modified “Option 1” for those districts on the Acknowledged List, which requires new construction projects to re-justify their eligibility for the enrollment year in which the application was processed by OPSC without losing their place in line. “Acknowledged List” projects are those filed with OPSC and beyond bond authority. Currently there are 280 projects, estimated to total $1.8 billion, on this list. Many of these districts have been awaiting funding for new construction since 2012, but will now be required to submit new enrollment information and to “re bench” and justify their eligibility. Instead of moving applications quickly and allowing those districts to qualify based upon the documentation submitted at the time of application, districts will need to resubmit qualifying documents. The impact on declining enrollment districts could be significant and districts who have made promises to their communities to obtain matching State funds may not even qualify for those projects.
The SAB took this action on a 6-4 vote after spirited board debate around the policy issue of funding facilities. The SAB heard testimony from many district administrators against this action and from over a dozen other speakers representing school districts, including Don Ulrich and Julie Author, the CASH Chair and Vice Chair. Stating that districts fully understood that the applications would not be reviewed and with no guaranteed of funding, a majority of SAB board members, led by the Administration, won the argument of protecting tax payers from allocating funding to districts based upon prior eligibility.
Getting funding out of Proposition 51 seems more and more like an uphill battle. Delays, new agreements, limited bonds being issued ($300m proposed for this spring) and lack of staffing at OPSC continue to slow the flow of State School Facility funds.
EH&A applauds those District leaders who have played by the rules and invested the time and money to get their projects submitted for State review and approval. We urge the State to live up to their obligation and deliver on their promise in SB50 to providing matching money for those districts that qualify for their critical school facility projects.
EH&A specializes in state funding with Associates who have years of experience in completing the mountain of forms and applications necessary for final approval. For more information on how we can help, give us a call, check out our website, or send us an email. For more information with the SAB action and regulatory changes, please see the CASH article referenced here…..