Crunch Time for School Facilities

joedixonOn behalf of the C.A.S.H. Board of Directors, I would like to wish a Happy New Year to our C.A.S.H. family.

In light of the significant changes that the education community has faced and will continue to face, 2014 figures to be an eventful year for the school facilities community.  What role will the state play in funding school facilities going forward?  Will there be a 2014 statewide school bond?  What is happening with the School Facility Program (SFP)?  How will maintenance departments fund their activities under the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)?  How do districts access and effectively utilize Proposition 39 energy efficiency funds?  These are essential questions for the school facilities community, and they will all be deliberated during this pivotal year.

C.A.S.H. will be at the table in each of these critical policy discussions, so in this month’s Message from the Chair, I will focus on where we are with these issues as we begin a new year.  I encourage you to attend the C.A.S.H. Annual Conference, February 24 – 26 to learn more on these and other topics. To register for the Conference click here.

State Budget   

The Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposal includes a detailed discussion of his concerns about the current School Facility Program (SFP), his policy considerations for a future program, and his intent to pursue discussion and further negotiations with stakeholders.  The Governor states that, “Any future program should be designed to provide districts with the tools and resources to address their core facility gaps, but should also avoid an unsustainable reliance on state debt issuance that characterizes the current school facilities program.”  For more details on the state budget click here to see the January 10 CASH Register news article.

C.A.S.H. is pleased that the Governor and other state decision-makers want to engage in a broad discussion about how school facilities will be funded going forward.  C.A.S.H. will work with state leaders on these issues, emphasizing the historically successful partnership and the need for equitable school facilities and maintenance practices.  The discussions about a future school facilities program, including the Governor’s budget proposal and the State Allocation Board Program Review Subcommittee’s deliberations, will be key in the larger discussion about a statewide school bond.  As Past C.A.S.H. Chair Terry Bradley likes to say, “Buildings don’t speak for themselves” – it will be up to the C.A.S.H. family and our partners to make the case for the continuing need for state support of school facilities.

Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)

The nature of existing approaches to funding schools is undergoing a significant change with the multi-year implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and this will affect  the method for funding school maintenance.  The LCFF presents both challenges and opportunities for school maintenance departments.  C.A.S.H. applauds the Administration and the State Board of Education (SBE) for including the requirement that “…school facilities are maintained in good repair pursuant to Education Code section 17002(d)” as one of the eight state priorities that all school districts and country offices of education must address in their completed Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP); however, we believe that the LCAP should include a provision that requires schools to describe and adopt a local “Good Repair” standard to establish a baseline for planning and evaluation of each district’s approach to school maintenance.

C.A.S.H. has submitted a letter to the State Board of Education (SBE) to recommend this important clarification.  In addition, C.A.S.H. has submitted a letter to all members of the Legislature urging them to ensure that school maintenance departments have the necessary resources to ensure that their schools are clean, safe, healthy and instructionally-adequate.

State Allocation Board Program Review Subcommittee

The Subcommittee met regularly throughout 2013 to review the existing School Facility Program (SFP), with an eye toward improving the program in anticipation of a discussion about a statewide school bond in 2014.  At its final meeting in November 2013, the Subcommittee reviewed its final report, affirming all the areas of concern and proposed solutions outlined by the OPSC staff.  C.A.S.H. provided testimony on key issues throughout the Subcommittee meetings, and has sent a detailed letter responding to each of the Subcommittee’s recommendations.

Proposition 39 Energy Efficiency Funding

The California Energy Commission (CEC) released its draft guidelines in late November of 2013, and they were adopted on December 19, 2013.  The Governor’s Budget proposes to allocate the $363 million of energy efficiency funds available in

2014-15 as follows:

•     $316 million and $39 million to K-12 school and community college districts, respectively, for energy efficiency project grants

•     $5 million to the California Conservation Corps for continued technical assistance to K-12 school districts

•     $3 million to the Workforce Investment Board for continued implementation of the Job-training program.

C.A.S.H. and the School Energy Coalition have scheduled workshops on Friday, January 24 in Ontario and Tuesday, January 28 in Sacramento around Proposition 39 (and other issues) to help school districts navigate the Proposition 39 application and approval process.  To register for the workshops click here.

As I previously noted, I highly encourage you to attend the C.A.S.H. Annual Conference, February 24 – 26, 2014 at the Sacramento Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel.  Your Vice Chair Jenny Hannah, Annual Conference Planning Committee Chair, has done a stellar job of developing a program that will include information and presentations on the critical issues that I have discussed, as well as many other issues that school facility and maintenance professionals need to know.

The issue of bringing our learning environments into the 21st Century continues to gain visibility and traction.  As discussions with our state partners and school facilities practitioners continue to evolve, the Conference will emphasize this area.  Many of the workshops and clinics will focus on 21st Century learning environments and technology.  There will also be examples of 21st Century learning environments in the Conference registration area.  To register for the Conference click here.