New funding source opens up for career technical education facility construction

Schools looking to update or build new career technical education facilities now have access to new sources of funding, opened this week by state officials.

With no money remaining in an account created specifically for CTE facility construction, the State Allocation Board on Wednesday approved regulations allowing such projects to be built with monies from the school modernization fund, an account with $388 million remaining.

Also, schools may qualify for additional construction funds for building healthy, environmentally sustainable CTE facilities. These so-called High Performance Incentive grants are awarded if the project meets certain state-approved energy and health criteria.

The regulatory changes, created by SB 128 - by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach - allow for grants of up to $3 million for new construction and $1.5 million for remodels for schools with existing CTE programs.

In addition, the bill amended the Education Code to allow districts with CTE projects to apply for High Performance Incentive grants - $150,000 for new facilities on new sites; $250,000 for new facilities or renovations on existing sites - to offset costs associated with design and creation of energy efficient buildings.

The changes now will allow some 150 CTE projects totaling $198 million to move forward. Plans for 73 of those projects had been approved previously by the State Allocation Board, which needed Legislative approval to transfer money from its modernization fund to its Career Technical Education facilities fund.

A subcommittee of the SAB has been meeting since last fall to hammer out details of the program, which created the High Performance Incentive Grant to encourage districts to build facilities that meet certain performance standards with regard to energy efficiency.

Projects are determined to be "high-performance" if they meet a set of criteria based on standards created by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, an organization dedicated to helping schools create healthy, environmentally sustainable facilities. more