General Assembly to Consider Expanding Eligible Costs for School Construction

Senate Bill 40 and House Bill 68 would clean up an arbitrary funding minimum set by the Built to Learn Act to access State funding on systemic school projects.

Senators Katie Fry Hester and Guy Guzzone and Delegate Courtney Watson have pre-filed Senate Bill 40 and House Bill 68 to expand eligibility for State funds established by the Built to Learn Act.

Currently, systemic school construction projects — like repairing, replacement, or upgrading facility systems, such as HVAC unites, are only eligible for funding under the Built to Learn Act if the projects total at least $4 million in cost. This minimum requirement was largely an arbitrary decision made during the the legislative process, but has proved to be one that a lot of smaller systemic projects will not meet, therefore disqualifying them from the funding.

These bills eliminate up the cost requirement and would allow for more flexibility in accessing the already existing pool of funds established by Built to Learn — the Supplemental Public School Construction Financing Fund and the Supplemental Public School Construction Facilities Fund. Under these bills, the Interagency Commission for School Construction (IAC) would have to consider all systemic projects eligible for these funds — no matter how small or large the project is, or how costly or inexpensive.

SB 40 is scheduled to be heard in the Budget and Taxation Committee on January 19 at 1 p.m. The House version of the bill is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more on school construction and other issues as the legislative session progresses.