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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 15, 2019 12:30 PM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Plan Con - Construction and Renovation of Buildings by School Entities and Establishing a Grant Program for Maintenance Projects
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce Senate Bill 700 from last session, which contained the unanimous recommendations from the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee (PlanCon Advisory Committee). Cosponsors included Senators Scarnati, Hughes, Costa, Aument, Folmer, Langerholc, Martin, Regan, Killion, Brewster, Dinniman, Schwank, Laughlin, Tomlinson, K. Ward, Yaw, Vogel, Mensch, Stefano, Scavello and Gordner.

The PlanCon Advisory Committee was established pursuant to Act 25 of 2016 (HB 1589) to review and make findings and recommendations related to the program for State reimbursement for construction and reconstruction and lease of public school buildings. The report identified four key areas in the program where substantial revisions were critical and recommendations were based on public hearings and tours of school facilities as well as materials submitted to the PlanCon Advisory Committee.

The PlanCon Advisory Committee’s recommendations included the following areas:
Administrative Process:
  • Simplify by reducing to a 4-step administrative process.
  • Authorize PDE to develop a web-based application and data collection system.
  • Allow electronic submittal of required documents via the Internet.

    High-Performance Building Standards:
  • Recognize LEED and Green Globes as high-performance building standards.
  • Allow the Secretary of Education to recognize other high-performance building standards with the goal to meet or exceed LEED and Green Globes standards.
  • Provide a ten percent (10%) incentive in the reimbursement formula for projects that use recognized High-Performance building standards.
  • Require projects seeking the high-performance building standards reimbursement incentive to provide a projected return on investment for utilizing high-performance standards versus code construction which must show a positive return on investment over the building’s lifetime.

    Maintenance, Repairs, and Modernization Project:
  • Create a NEW small project building maintenance and repair grant program by designating a twenty percent (20%) set-aside of monies appropriated for the new building reimbursement program. Eligible projects shall include: roof repairs and replacement; HVAC boilers and controls; plumbing systems; energy savings projects; health and safety upgrades; emergencies, and other projects as approved by the Secretary. Per project maximum award of $1 million with a fifty percent (50%) local match.
  • Annual allocation of funds to a district cannot exceed twenty percent (20%) of annual set-aside funds.
  • Use funding rubric to prioritize grant awards which shall consider: school district wealth; prior receipt of grant awards; building conditions and emergencies.
  • Allocate fifty percent (50%) of grant awards on December 31 and allocate remaining funds no later than June 30.
  • Define emergencies as deficiencies which prohibit a school building from being occupied.No local match is required for emergencies.
  • Require PDE to annually transmit grant award information, including scoring, to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.
  • Develop guidelines for voluntary reporting of information by districts related to building safety, inventory and condition.
  • Require PDE to create a uniform Facility Condition Assessment (FCA) for all school districts that includes, but is not limited to, a projection of costs to maintain and renovate the district’s existing facilities.Each district’s completed FCA shall be submitted to the Department and the Department shall post the FCAs on its website.
  • Incentivize districts to complete FCAs on a decennial basis:
    • Provide additional points in small project grant funding rubric for participation.
    • Provide two percent (2%) incentive in reimbursement formula for participation.
  • Require the Department of Labor and Industry to make information available to public school districts to help them understand the difference between “public work” and “maintenance work” based on industry standards and the existing language of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act.
  • Create a set-aside of five percent (5%) of monies appropriated for the new building reimbursement program to be dedicated to school safety projects.

    Reimbursement Formula to include:
  • Provides for a streamlined funding formula.
  • Includes a per pupil amount based on the median structural cost of completed school buildings over the last five years.
  • Determines building capacity with NEW FTE room schedule developed with PDE architect to better reflect actual room type costs.
  • Uses a New wealth factor which is the greater of the Market Value Aid Ratio and the Basic Education Funding factors expressed as a percentage (Includes: Median household Income Index, Local Effort Capacity Index, Sparsity/Size Adjustment and Concentrated Poverty).
  • Provides for the state share of costs to be paid in 20 equal payments over 20 years and limits total payments to 60% of structural costs.

    I hope that you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation for our schools. Please contact my office at 717-787-1349 if you have any questions.

Introduced as SB700