PA 08-169—sSB 402

Education Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING AUTHORIZATION OF STATE GRANT COMMITMENTS FOR SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS, CHANGES TO THE STATUTES RELATING TO SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION, REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND MAGNET SCHOOLS, PROVIDING FUNDING FOR START-UP COSTS FOR MAGNET SCHOOLS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PLAN FOR THE TEACHING OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM

SUMMARY: This act authorizes state grant commitments for various new school construction projects and reauthorizes previously authorized projects that have changed substantially in cost or scope. It also:

1. imposes a deadline for school districts to submit school project change orders to the State Department of Education (SDE) for cost eligibility review;

2. requires ownership of school buildings for which the state contributed 95% or more, rather than 100%, of the cost, to revert to the state if the building is changed to a non-school use within 20 years after the General Assembly approved the grant for the project;

3. makes it easier for New London to qualify for a higher state school construction reimbursement rate for its magnet school construction projects;

4. establishes a separate process for school districts to award architectural or construction management service contracts on school projects;

5. establishes an alternative procedure for a certain regional school district to add or withdraw grades from the district;

6. makes the community-technical college board of trustees eligible for a magnet school construction grant on behalf of Quinebaug Valley Community College;

7. allows additional entities other than local or regional school districts to apply for and receive state school construction grants for interdistrict magnet schools that implement the 2008 Sheff v. O'Neill settlement (“Sheff magnets”);

8. gives Sheff magnet applicants more time to apply and receive approval for school construction grants and allows them to receive a 95% reimbursement rate for their eligible construction costs;

9. adds a magnet school operated by Goodwin College to the act's 2008 project list, commits the state to reimburse 95% of the school's eligible construction cost, and limits the total project costs to $80 million;

10. authorizes up to $3 million in state bonding for start-up grants for new Sheff magnets;

11. increases the FY 09 state bond authorization for school construction projects by $20 million;

12. requires education officials to study and recommend how to incorporate ways of teaching children with autism and other developmental disabilities into training programs for teachers, other educational personnel, and parents; and

13. waives statutory and regulatory requirements to make specified school construction projects eligible for state grants subject to certain conditions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage unless otherwise noted below.

1 — GRANT COMMITMENTS FOR LOCAL SCHOOL PROJECTS

The act authorizes $345. 37 million in state grant commitments for 29 new school construction projects, with estimated total project costs of $535. 61 million. It also reauthorizes 18 previously authorized projects that have changed substantially (more than 10%) in cost or scope. The reauthorizations increase state grant commitments for these projects by a net $109,425,640 from the amounts previously authorized.

2 — DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING CHANGE ORDERS

The act requires school districts to submit school project change orders and other change directives issued on or after July 1, 2008 to the education commissioner within six months after issuance. It excludes any change order not submitted within six months and in a manner the commissioner prescribes from the project costs eligible for a school construction grant.

A change order is an amendment to a school construction project that does not have to be competitively bid. SDE guidelines state that school districts should use change orders only for unforeseen or emergency conditions arising during construction. The education commissioner reviews change orders to determine if their costs are eligible for state reimbursement.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

3 — REVERSION TO THE STATE UPON A CHANGE IN USE

Under prior law, if the state grant for a school project equalled 100% of its eligible cost, the building had to be used for the grant purpose for at least 20 years from the date the General Assembly approved the grant. If the building's use was changed within the 20-year period, title reverted to the state unless the education commissioner, for good cause, decided otherwise. The law applied to projects approved on or after July 1, 1993. This act extends the reversion requirement to projects approved after that date for which the state paid 95% or more of the project cost.

The change conforms the reversion requirement to a 2004 reduction in state grant support for interdistrict magnet school, vocational agriculture center, and regional special education facility projects from 100% to 95% of the eligible cost.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

12 — NEW LONDON MAGNET SCHOOL ENROLLMENT

The act makes it easier for New London to qualify for a higher state reimbursement rate for its magnet school construction projects.

By law, the education commissioner may designate one or two schools in New London as interdistrict magnet schools, thus making construction projects at those schools eligible for the 95% interdistrict magnet school reimbursement rate. To qualify for the higher reimbursement, New London must, by June 30, 2012, achieve a minimum district-wide enrollment of 15% of students from outside the district. If it does not, it must repay the difference between the 95% school construction grant and the grant it would have received under its regular, lower reimbursement rate (approximately 78%).

For purposes of determining the out-of-district enrollment, the act requires students enrolled in the Regional Multicultural Magnet School to be considered enrolled in New London's interdistrict magnet school district. The Regional Multicultural Magnet School is run by LEARN, which is the regional educational service center (RESC) for the New London area.

13 — EAST HARTFORD/GLASTONBURY MAGNET SCHOOL

Under certain conditions, the act transfers a previously authorized grant commitment for a new interdistrict magnet school from East Hartford to Glastonbury with the school to be located in Glastonbury. It requires total project costs of up to $29,724,250 to be reimbursed at the rate of 100% of eligible costs and up to $7 million of additional costs to be reimbursed at the rate of 95%. It allows any or all of the existing plans and specifications to be used for the Glastonbury project and makes funds previously spent on them eligible for reimbursement whether or not they are used or the project is completed. Under the act, East Hartford is not required to repay up to $2. 9 million of a state grant previously spent for the project if (1) the expenses were for parts of the project being transferred to Glastonbury and (2) Glastonbury makes no further claim for reimbursement of those expenses.

The act makes these waivers contingent on (1) the Hartford board of education agreeing to send students to the school and (2) project construction starting within two years of the act's passage.

17 — SELECTION PROCESS FOR ARCHITECTS AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGERS ON STATE-FUNDED SCHOOL PROJECTS

The act establishes a separate process by which local school districts must award contracts for architectural or construction management services on school construction projects receiving state school construction grants.

It also defines the “most responsible qualified proposer” for an architectural or construction manager services contract as the firm the school district selects after considering the price and the qualities needed to faithfully perform the work based on the criteria and work scope the district included in its request for proposals.

Required Selection Process

Under prior law, school districts had to award contracts for architectural and construction management services to the lowest responsible qualified bidder after a public invitation to bid advertised in a newspaper circulating in the town where the construction would occur. The act requires districts to award the contracts to the most responsible, rather than the lowest responsible, qualified firm using a public selection process that contains certain prescribed steps.

To start the process, a district must issue a request for qualifications (RFQ). From the firms responding to its RFQ, the district must solicit proposals (RFPs) from those firms that meet the RFQ criteria. The RFPs must include the firms' fees. The act requires districts to advertise the proposed contracts in a newspaper circulating in the town where the project will take place, unless the district is using a state contract for the project. Although the act does not explicitly say so, it appears that the advertising requirement applies to the RFQ since only firms responding to the RFQ can submit responses to the RFP.

Award Criteria

After the RFP process, the district must evaluate the proposals to determine no more than the four most responsible qualified firms. To determine the finalists, the district must use criteria listed in the RFQ and RFP. In evaluating the finalists' bids, the district must give due consideration to:

1. each firm's price for the project;

2. its experience with work of similar size and scope as that required for the project;

3. its organization and team structure for the project;

4. past performance, including meeting project schedules and budgets, and the number of change orders for projects;

5. the work approach the project requires; and

6. documented contract oversight capabilities.

The evaluation can also include specific project criteria.

For final selection, a district is limited to the pool of no more than the four firms. In making the final selection, the district must consider all criteria included in the RFP.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

19 — MIDDLETOWN SCHOOL PROJECTS

The act waives the requirements of the school construction law to allow Middletown to (1) use federal, other state, and private funding for two school projects in addition to state school construction grants and (2) deduct these outside grants from its locally funded share of the projects' cost rather than from the share reimbursed by the state school construction grant for the projects.

23 & 24 — ADDING OR WITHDRAWING GRADES FROM A REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

The act establishes an alternative procedure for a qualifying regional school district that does not include grades K-12 to add or withdraw grades from the regional district. The alternative procedure allows the regional board of education, on its own or at the request of two or more member towns' boards of education, to recommend and develop a plan to add or withdraw grades and submit it directly to a referendum in the member towns. The alternative procedure bypasses the requirement that member towns' boards of education and finance appoint a special committee to study whether to add or withdraw grades.

Districts That May Use the Alternative Procedure

To be eligible to use the alternative procedure to add or withdraw grades, a regional district must have three member towns, each with a population between 3,000 and 7,500, and a combined population of between 10,000 and 20,000. Only Region 4, made up of Chester, Deep River, and Essex, meets these criteria.

The population qualifications must be determined using the same population data as the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.

Plan to Add or Withdraw Grades

Under the mandatory procedure that previously applied to all districts, before any grades may be added or withdrawn from a regional district covering less than grades K-12, there must be a study of the advisability of the change. The regional board of education may recommend the study on its own and must do so if two or more of its member towns' boards of education ask for it. The regional board must recommend the study to the chairpersons of the affected towns' boards of education and finance or other fiscal authority. The law establishes who appoints study committee members, a deadline for issuing a committee report, and maximum funding for the study.

The existing law is still mandatory for most regional districts, but the act also allows a qualifying regional board of education to instead develop its own plan, without the involvement of town fiscal authorities and without the study committee.

Referenda on Plan

Under the existing procedure, if the study committee recommends adding or withdrawing grades, the issue must be submitted to referenda in member towns. Under the act's alternate procedure, the regional board of education's plan to add or withdraw grades must be submitted to the referenda. As under the regular procedure, the alternative process requires referenda to be held in the same manner as referenda establishing a regional school district (CGS 10-45).

The act makes conforming changes to the referendum procedure to accommodate a recommendation from the regional board of education or a study committee. As under the regular procedure, the referenda must occur between 45 and 90 days after a recommendation. If a majority of the whole district votes to approve the addition or withdrawal of grades, the plan must be implemented. The act changes the procedure that applies if the plan is rejected. It requires that, in every case, the regional board of education decide whether to immediately submit it to a second referendum. Under prior law, when a plan to add or withdraw grades came from a study committee, it was that committee's decision whether to submit to a second referendum.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008.

25 & 26 — QUINEBAUG VALLEY MIDDLE COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL

The act makes the community-technical colleges board of trustees, on behalf of Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), eligible for interdistrict magnet school construction grants for the Quinebaug Valley Middle College High School on the QVCC campus. It also makes the board eligible for a state school construction grant reimbursement rate of 100% of the eligible costs for constructing the school. It adds the project to the 2008 construction project priority list and makes it eligible for grant consideration if the board files a grant application on or before June 30, 2009 and the project complies with all other requirements of the school construction law.

26 — SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GRANTS FOR SHEFF PROJECTS

Eligible Entities

The act expands the entities that may apply for and receive state school construction reimbursement grants. Under prior law, only a local and regional board of education and the community technical college board of trustees on behalf of Manchester Community College could apply.

Under the act, the following entities may also apply for grants to pay eligible capital costs for interdistrict magnet schools that help the state to meet the goals of the 2008 Sheff settlement:

1. two or more boards of education operating under a cooperative arrangement,

2. the community-technical colleges board of trustees on behalf of any community college;

3. the UConn, Connecticut State University, or any independent college's board of trustees on behalf of their respective institutions; and

4. any other nonprofit corporation the education commissioner approves.

Grant Applications for Sheff Projects

The act gives applicants seeking authorization for school projects to implement Sheff goals an additional two months to submit their grant applications. In general, school construction grant applications are due by June 30 each year. The act gives Sheff project applicants until September 1. And, instead of requiring the local funding authorization to be included in the application as is required for other school construction projects, it gives Sheff project applicants until December 1 of the application year to secure and report all required state and local approvals needed to complete the grant application.

Additions to Priority List After Legislative Submission

The act allows Sheff projects to be added to the school construction project priority list after the SDE submits the list to the legislature's school construction committee for approval. Under prior law, the only projects that could be added were those needed to (1) preserve a school's accreditation after the school is placed on probation or (2) replace school buildings that a state agency intends to take for a public purpose.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

27 — SHEFF MAGNET SCHOOL PROJECT REIMBURSEMENT RATE

Starting with FY 08, the act makes certain entities operating Sheff interdistrict magnet schools eligible for state reimbursement of up to 95% of the eligible construction costs. The new eligibility applies to the boards of trustees of the community-technical colleges, UConn, CSU, or any independent college on behalf of their respective institutions, and nonprofit organizations approved by the education commissioner. The 95% reimbursement rate already applies to any interdistrict magnet school project operated by a board of education, cooperative arrangement among school districts, or RESC that started in FY 04 or after.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

28 — GOODWIN COLLEGE MAGNET SCHOOL

The act adds the Goodwin College-Connecticut River Academy for Earth and Space Science Magnet School in East Hartford to the 2008 school construction project priority list. It makes the project eligible for a school construction reimbursement grant if it files a grant application by September 1, 2008 and meets all other requirements of, and is eligible for assistance under, the school construction law. The total cost for the project is limited to $80 million.

29 — SHEFF MAGNET SCHOOL START-UP GRANTS

The act authorizes up to $3 million in state bonding for capital start-up cost grants for new Sheff interdistrict magnet schools. It requires the SDE to use the funds to give grants for portable classrooms; leased space; and equipment purchases, including computers and classroom furniture for such schools.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

30 — GENERAL BOND AUTHORIZATION FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

The act increases the state bond authorization for FY 09 school construction projects by $20 million, from $603 million to $623 million.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

31 — TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

The act requires the education, higher education, and developmental services commissioners, and Southern Connecticut State University's (SCSU) president, or their designees, to develop recommendations for incorporating ways of teaching children with autism or other developmental disabilities in (1) teacher preparation programs; (2) requirements for beginning teacher certification; (3) in-service training for active teachers; and (4) training programs for school paraprofessionals, related service professionals, early childhood certificate holders, school administrators, and parents. The commissioners and the president must define autism and developmental disabilities for purposes of the recommendations. (The rest of the act replaces the SCSU president with the Connecticut State University (CSU) chancellor. )

The commissioners and the chancellor must consult with appropriate parties, including constituent units, independent colleges, the State Education Resource Center, and the RESCs in developing the definition and the recommendations.

The act requires the commissioners and the chancellor to address:

1. competencies for beginning teacher candidates, school paraprofessionals, related service professionals, early childhood certificate holders, school administrators, and parents;

2. existing and new capacity required to implement the recommendations;

3. the extent that new methods are needed for school readiness and K-12 programs;

4. the availability of experts in teaching methods for children with autism and other developmental disabilities;

5. collaborators who should be involved in developing the proposed training;

6. best pedagogical practices, including research-based strategies that address (a) characteristics of children with these disabilities, (b) curriculum planning, modifications in curriculum and instruction, adaptations, and specialized methods, (c) assistive technology, and (d) inclusive practices including collaborative partnerships;

7. incorporating the recommended methods into special education programs, requirements, and training in compliance with the federal special education law;

8. a budget and timeline for implementing the plan; and

9. steps to address the plan's effect on school readiness programs, elementary and secondary schools, and higher education institutions.

The act requires the education commissioner and the CSU chancellor or their designees to report the recommendations to the Education, Public Health, and Higher Education committees by February 1, 2009.

4-11; 14-18; 20-22; & 32-33 — WAIVERS FOR SPECIFIC SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

The act waives certain statutory and regulatory requirements to make specified school construction projects eligible for state grants under certain conditions as shown in the table below.

District

Project

Requirements Waived

Conditions

Newington: Board of education central administrative offices

Purchase and alter a building at former Fairfield Hills Hospital site

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

Meeting with SDE staff prior to executing a design-build contract

SDE approval of plans and specifications

Waterbury: Various schools

Code violations

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

SDE approval of plans and specifications

Stamford: Cloonan Middle School

Alterations

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

SDE approval of plans and specifications

Costs must be otherwise eligible

Newington: Newington High School

Expansion, alterations, and code violations

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

SDE approval of plans and specifications

West Hartford: Wolcott Elementary School

Zero carbon footprint demonstration project, including solar array for roof, improved heating and ventilation system controls, lighting controls for daytime dimming, and window treatments to retain heat in winter and reduce heat gain in summer, all of which must be considered eligible costs

● Deadline for inclusion on 2008 priority list

● Local funding authorization required prior to application

● Eligible costs

● Other federal, state, and private funding received for the project must be deducted from cost reimbursed by state school construction grant

● Costs eligible for grant commitment limited to $750,000

● District must file an application by 6/30/09

● Waivers take effect 7/1/08

Scotland: Scotland Elementary School

Expansion and alteration

Projected enrollment calculation formula

Use 343 as projected enrollment to increase eligible square footage

Bridgeport: Wilbur Cross School

Alterations

● Deadline for inclusion on 2008 priority list

● Local funding authorization required prior to application

● Completed application filed by 6/30/08

● Meet all other statutory requirements

Norwich: Kelly Middle School

Addition and renovate as new

● Deadline for inclusion on 2008 priority list

● Local funding authorization required prior to application

● Completed application filed by 6/30/08

● Meet all other statutory requirements

West Hartford: Charter Oak Elementary School

Model children's campus project, including a Sheff interdistrict magnet school

● Deadline for inclusion on 2008 priority list

● Local funding authorization required prior to application

● Eligible costs

● Costs eligible for grant commitment limited to $700,000

● District must file an application before 6/30/09

● Project meets all other requirements

● Waivers take effect 7/1/08

Madison:

Dr. Robert H. Brown School

Roof replacement

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

SDE approval of plans and specifications

Lebanon: Lyman Memorial High School

Vocational-agriculture equipment purchase

Deadline for submitting completed grant application

Documentation of required local legislative and funding authorizations required by 6/30/08

Portland: Portland Middle/High School

Expansion and alteration

Projected enrollment calculation

Use 1,070 as projected enrollment to increase eligible square footage

Bridgeport: Multi-Magnet High School

New construction

Requirement to begin construction within two years after legislative authorization

Construction must start by 6/30/10

Region 19: E. O. Smith High School

Vocational agriculture equipment and building alterations

Timing of bid and SDE plan approval

SDE approval of plans and specifications

New Haven: Various schools

Various projects

Allow the district to apply a share of proceeds received from the state for the sale of Woodward School to reduce local funding share of various projects

The amount of the proceeds to be applied is limited to $3 million.

Watertown: Multiple projects

Roof replacement, including ceiling and fire prevention work

● Requirement that project scope be established at time of application

● Requirement that SDE approve project plans prior to bidding and starting the project

SDE approval of plans and specifications

New Canaan: New Canaan High School

Portion of project for renovating and extending the school concerning remediation of latent asbestos or other hazard defined by code

Requirement for state-funded school construction projects to be competitively bid

 

BACKGROUND

School Construction Grants

The state reimburses school districts for between 20% and 80% of the eligible costs of local school construction projects. The reimbursement rate depends mostly on town wealth but districts may receive a higher reimbursement for certain types of projects, such as those involving space for school-readiness programs or full-day kindergarten. In addition, certain types of interdistrict projects (vocational agricultural centers, regional special education facilities, and interdistrict magnet schools) are reimbursed at the rate of 95% of eligible costs. Districts also receive a 10-percentage-point bonus for projects undertaken in cooperation with one or more other districts.

Related Act

Section 31 of this act concerning teaching children with autism and other developmental disabilities was also passed as a separate special act (SA 08-5).

OLR Tracking: JSL: RC: PF: dw