May 8, 2017
Today, the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) hosted a stakeholder input session to receive additional feedback on the proposed front-end grant agreement for School Facility Program projects. The grant agreement was initially presented to the State Allocation Board (SAB) for discussion on April 24, 2017. At that time, the SAB did not have enough votes to pass the grant agreement as drafted, and they deferred action until the May SAB meeting.
OPSC staff began today’s stakeholder meeting by stating that concerns related to the audit trailer bill language should be brought to Department of Finance. OPSC staff then outlined items that they have identified for possible amendment prior to the next SAB meeting. Topics included, but were not limited to:
- Which documents applicants are required to attach
- Inclusion of a “site description”
- Whether the definitions section should be limited to items that are unique to the grant agreement
- Timing of when grant agreements should be executed
- Laws and regulations with which applicants must comply
- Impacts to the Priority Funding process
- Expenditure report due dates and substantial progress
- Hold harmless/indemnity provision
- Eligible and ineligible expenditures
The issue of outlining a list of eligible and ineligible expenditures generated the most stakeholder feedback and discussion. Numerous stakeholders were concerned that expenditures on items not explicitly listed on the eligible expenditures list would not be accepted by local auditors. There were concerns that the proposed agreement would reduce the flexibility that districts have under the current grant program structure. There were also concerns voiced on behalf of Financial Hardship districts and county offices of education, which would have difficulty identifying local dollars to fund “ineligible” items such as computers.
OPSC’s goal is to bring an amended agreement to the next SAB meeting on May 24, 2017. They anticipate that the updated draft grant agreement will be available approximately one week prior to the hearing date and that the SAB agenda item will identify stakeholder feedback similar to the April agenda. OPSC anticipates that a larger regulations package will need to be brought to the SAB after the Legislature approves, and the Governor signs, the audit trailer bill language.
If you have feedback that you would like to provide, OPSC is still accepting comments on the grant agreement and requested that comments be submitted within the next few days. The current version of the grant agreement under discussion may be found here.
~ Rebekah Cearley