PA 07-249—sSB 1406

Education Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING AUTHORIZATION OF STATE GRANT COMMITMENTS FOR SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS AND CHANGES TO THE STATUTES CONCERNING SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS

SUMMARY: This act authorizes $378 million in state grant commitments for school construction projects, including increased grants for reauthorized projects that have changed in cost or scope by at least 10%.

The act also:

1. requires school renovation projects to meet additional criteria in order to receive a state grant,

2. limits the circumstances under which the state will reimburse school districts for project-related litigation expenses,

3. limits reimbursements for site remediation and improvement costs,

4. gives the education commissioner additional flexibility to approve vocational-technical school projects,

5. requires charter schools that receive state school construction grants of at least $250,000 to repay the unamortized part of the grant if they change the building to a nonschool use within 10 years of receiving the grant, and

6. subjects architectural and construction management services for school construction projects to competitive bidding.

The act repeals a two-percentage-point bonus reimbursement for green school projects and reverses certain changes concerning green building standards for schools enacted in PA 07-242. It establishes special school construction grants for the Connecticut Science Center and up to two New London school projects, allowing them to receive the interdistrict magnet school reimbursement rate of 95% of eligible project costs, up to certain limits.

Finally the act waives various statutory and regulatory requirements for state-assisted school construction projects to make specific projects eligible for state grants.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below.

1 – SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECT AUTHORIZATIONS

The act authorizes $322. 1 million in state grant commitments for 31 new school construction projects of various types. It also reauthorizes 17 previously authorized projects for the first time and 14 for the second time. These projects have changed substantially (more than 10%) in cost or scope. The reauthorizations increase state grant commitments by $55. 9 million from the amounts previously authorized.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

2 – RENOVATION PROJECTS

The act adds two conditions to the grant eligibility requirements for school renovation projects. School districts are already eligible for school construction grants for school renovation projects if (1) the project results in the renovated building having a useful life comparable to that of a new building and (2) renovation is cheaper than building a new school. In addition, the act requires that (1) the same school not have been renovated with a state school construction grant within the 20 years before the new grant application date and (2) at least 75% of the building to be renovated be at least 30 years old.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

3 – LITIGATION EXPENSES

The State Department of Education previously allowed school districts to include attorneys' fees and court costs for project-related litigation in their eligible project costs and to be reimbursed for those costs at the regular rate applicable to the project. For projects authorized on or after July 1, 2007, the act allows school districts to be reimbursed for project-related litigation expenses only if they win the lawsuit.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

4 – SITE REMEDIATION AND IMPROVEMENT COSTS

The act limits state reimbursement for school construction site remediation and improvements to no more than 25% of the site's appraised value with improvements. The limit does not apply if the site's purchase price is reduced so the price plus remediation cost is no greater than 125% of the appraised value of the site and the improvements. The new limit applies to projects authorized, and sites for school use selected, on or after July 1, 2007.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

5 & 6 – VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOL PROJECTS

The act exempts vo-tech projects from a law limiting to two the number of legislative reauthorizations for a school construction project. It thus allows the General Assembly to authorize three or more changes in cost or scope that exceed 10% for a vocational-technical school project.

The act also allows the education commissioner, on or after July 1, 2007, to approve, within available grant authorizations and without separate legislative authorization, the same types of emergency and code violation projects for vo-tech schools as he can for other schools. The commissioner's payments on such projects are limited to available appropriated funds. The types of projects are those that:

1. fix damage from fire and catastrophes,

2. remedy code violations,

3. replace roofs,

4. remedy certified school indoor air quality emergencies, or

5. buy and install portable classrooms.

As with other schools, the commissioner's authority to approve portable classrooms for vo-tech schools applies only if they do not create a new facility or modify an existing facility so that portables become a substantial percentage of the facility's total area.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

7 – CHARTER SCHOOL PROJECTS

The act requires charter schools that receive state school facility grants of $250,000 or more to repay some of the grant if they stop using the building as a school within 10 years after receiving it. The same grant repayment requirements already apply to other schools receiving state assistance.

The act requires the education commissioner to amortize the grant equally over 10 years. If the charter school governing authority takes the building out of service or converts it to a nonschool use during the amortization period, it must repay the unamortized grant balance. A charter school required to make a repayment can ask the state to forgive the repayment if it directs the building to another public use.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

15 – “GREEN BUILDING” STANDARD CHANGES

The act reverses certain statutory changes adopted by PA 07-242. It restores a provision that applies the green building standards to all state facilities projected to cost $5 million or more and that are funded on or after January 1, 2008. PA 07-242 limited that requirement to state buildings where at least $2 million of the funding comes from the state.

The act also reverses a provision of PA 07-242 that requires the Institute for Sustainable Energy, rather than the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary, to determine whether the cost of complying with the green standards significantly outweighs the benefits. Finally, it requires the OPM secretary to consult with the institute, as well as the public works commissioner, when exempting any facility from the standards.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2008

21 – CONNECTICUT SCIENCE CENTER

By July 1, 2007, the act requires the Connecticut Science Center president and the education commissioner to agree to a memorandum of understanding concerning the operation and status of the science center as a statewide magnet science learning center. Once the science center achieves that status, the act makes it eligible for school construction grant reimbursements of 95% of its costs for building, replacing, altering, and repairing its facilities, including reasonable costs for major exhibits. It allows the science center to fund the other 5% of such costs from private donations.

The act requires the science center to apply for school construction grant reimbursements according to regular application procedures. The science center's projects must meet all requirements for school construction projects unless the education commissioner waives any of them for good cause.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

25 - COMPETITIVE BIDDING REQUIREMENTS FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACTS

The act expands the requirements for competitive bidding on all orders and contracts for state-assisted school building projects to include orders and contracts for architectural and construction management services for such projects. By law, competitive bidding requirements do not apply to projects for which the school district is using a state contract, change orders, contracts or orders costing less than $10,000, and emergency contracts and orders.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007

30 – NEW LONDON MAGNET SCHOOL DISTRICT

The act allows the education commissioner to designate one or two schools in a school district that meets certain criteria as interdistrict magnet schools and makes school construction projects at those schools eligible for the 95% state school construction reimbursement rate applicable to interdistrict magnet schools. The act limits the total project costs for the two schools to $10 million. (PA 07-3, June Special Session, eliminates this limit and substitutes a $10 million limit on the additional reimbursement grant for the projects. )

To qualify, a district must be a priority school district and the district for a town (1) that has a population of between 20,000 and 30,000, (2) with an area of less than six square miles, and (3) with at least 50% of its property listed as tax-exempt. Only New London meets these conditions. Before the commissioner may designate the schools as a magnet district, the New London Board of Education must submit a plan that the commissioner finds reasonable for achieving a minimum district-wide enrollment of 15% of students from outside the district. Three years after it receives the 95% reimbursement rate under the act, the New London Board of Education must report to the Education Committee on its progress in meeting the act's enrollment requirement.

If the district fails to meet the enrollment requirement by June 30, 2012, it must repay the difference between the 95% school construction grant and the grant it would have received at its regular reimbursement rate. For FY 08, New London's regular reimbursement rate is 77. 86%.

Under the act, the district's schools are eligible for magnet school operating grants only if they meet the same interdistrict magnet school enrollment requirements as all other such schools. These are that (1) the school's enrollment from a single participating district not exceed 75% of its total enrollment and (2) at least 25%, but no more than 75%, of the students enrolled in the school be from racial minorities.

33 – REPEAL GREEN SCHOOL BONUS

The act repeals a provision of PA 07-242 that gave school districts a two-percentage-point bonus in their school construction grant reimbursement rates (but no more than 100% reimbursement) for school projects subject to the green building requirements, and requiring a school district to certify to the Education Department that the school will meet the standards.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

WAIVERS FOR SPECIFIC PROJECTS

The act waives certain statutory and regulatory requirements to make the school construction projects listed in Table 2 eligible for state grants.

Table 2: Waivers for Specific School Construction Projects

District

School

Project

Requirements Waived and Conditions

8

Ellington

Crystal Lake School

Code violation

• Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

9

Avon

Avon Middle School

Code violation

• Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

10

Region 19

E. O. Smith High School

Off-site extension of water system

• Ineligible costs

11

Region 14

Nonnewaug High School

Agri-science equipment project costing approximately $182,000

• Grant application deadline

• Local funding authori-zation deadline

• Completed application required by 6/30/08

12

Killingly

Killingly High School

New school and new regional vo-ag center

• Deadline to begin construction extended to 6/30/08

13

North Canaan

North Canaan Elementary School

Roof replacement

• Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

14

Waterbury

Enlightenment and Special Education Program Center

Extension and alteration

• Grant application deadline

• Add to 2007 priority list

• Completed application required by 6/30/07

16

Tolland

Parker Memorial School and

Old Tolland High School

Water line installation

• Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

17

New Haven

Interdistrict magnet school to be operated in cooperation with the University of New Haven

New school

• Education commis-sioner must give review and approval priority to placing the project's application on the 2008 school priority list

• Completed application required by 6/30/07

18

New Haven

New Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School

New magnet school – additional reauthorization for increased costs up to $66 million in total project costs

• Limit on number of legislative reauthori-zations for changes in project scope or cost over 10%

19

New Haven

Fair Haven Middle School

Renovation costs for leased swing space

• Ineligible costs

20

Colchester

Bacon Academy

Relocatable classrooms

• Acoustical standards for relocatable classrooms, provided they were purchased prior to 7/1/05

22

NA

Connecticut Science Center

Finish construction of new facility, up to $16 million in total project costs. Apply 95% magnet school reimbursement rate.

• All school construction grant provisions

23

West Hartford

Conard High School

Extension and alteration

• Use 10-year instead of 8- year enrollment projection for the project

24

Middletown

Middletown High School

Fuel cell installation project

• Public RFP as conducted by district meets competitive bidding require-ments.

• Portion funded by Ct. Clean Energy Fund not considered a project expense.

• Incremental costs over Clean Energy Fund grant for installing the fuel cell and related equipment are fully eligible for grant purposes.

• Wall and area enclosing the fuel cell and slab area for emergency generator excluded from standard space speci-fications.

• Requirement for SDE to approve plans and specifi-cations prior to bid, provided CII certifies to SDE that the fuel cell and generator were installed according to industry standard and applicable codes.

26

West Hartford

Charter Oak Academy &

Smith School

Technology improvements

• Grant application deadline

• Local funding authori-zation deadline

• Ineligible costs

• Completed application required by 6/30/08

27

Manchester

Bennet School

Change extension and alteration project to a renovation project, limited to the cost of a grant for new construction

• Requirement that project description be submitted at time of project application

• Requirement that a renovation project cost less than a new building

28

Brooklyn

Brooklyn Elementary and Junior High Schools

Water line extension

• Expand 1994 ineligible cost waiver for sewer line extension

29

Simsbury

Central Elementary School

New construction or alterations to recreational facility, up to $20,000

• Ineligible cost

30(c)

New London (see above)

Up to 2 schools

School construction projects

• Deadline to file grant application

• Local funding authori-zation

• Add projects to 2007 priority list

• District must secure local funding, file a completed application by 6/30/08, and meet other school construction require-ments.

31

Region 11 & Brooklyn

New high school

New high school construction under a cooperative arrangement

• Deadline to file grant application, provided (1) a cooperative agreement for the project is established by June 30, 2007 and (2) the district files application by December 31, 2007.

32

Madison

Walter C. Polson Middle School

Roof replacement

• Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

34

Waterbury

Duggan School – New Elementary School #1

Change new building project to a renovation project, limited to the cost of a grant for new construction

• Requirement that project description be submitted at time of project application

• Requirement that a renovation project cost less than a new building

35

New Fairfield

New Fairfield High School and Middle School Facility

Renovate only portion built around 1972 plus, at the district's option, (1) limited alterations to the part of the facility built in 1995, (2) extension of the portion built in 1995, or (3) both.

• Scope of renovation

36

New Canaan

New Canaan High School

Renovation and extension, to the extent increased costs due to discovery and remediation of latent asbestos or other code hazard

• Limitations on changes in project scope or costs

37

Southington

South End Elementary and

Plantsville Elementary

Unspecified projects

• Local funding authori-zation deadline

• Add to 2007 list

• Local funding authorization must be secured and project applications filed by 6/30/2007

• Projects must meet all other school construction require-ments

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BACKGROUND

School Construction Grants

By law, the state reimburses school districts on a sliding scale of from 20% to 80% of their eligible school construction costs, depending on the district's wealth. Districts receive higher reimbursement rates for certain projects, such as regional and interdistrict magnet schools, vocational agriculture, and special education projects and projects that include space for school readiness and all-day kindergarten. Vocational-technical school projects are included on the annual authorization and reauthorization lists the education commissioner submits to the General Assembly, but the projects are 100% state-funded.

Related Acts

This act eliminates and reverses certain provisions of PA 07-242 relating to school construction and energy efficient buildings. PA 07-3, June Special Session, changes this act's cost limit for the New London magnet school projects and adds statutory and regulatory waivers for projects in Suffield (regional agriscience center), Meriden (Edison Magnet School), Region 4 (Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Jr. High School), and Westbrook (Westbrook Middle/High School).

OLR Tracking: JSL: DD: PF: RO