State Allocation Board approves $1.4 billion for priority’ projects

The State Allocation Board approved $1.4 billion in priority' funding for school construction projects Wednesday.

These much-needed funds come at a critical time," said State Superintendent Jack O'Connell in a statement.

"I applaud the State Allocation Board for acting quickly to move along construction and modernization projects that will provide better learning environments for students and will stimulate the economy by creating more construction jobs," he said.

The program was created last year during a lag in school construction. Districts that had been approved for funding in the first in, first out system had trouble securing local matching funds and as a result clogged the distribution of state funds.

In May 2010, the allocation board created a priority' program as a way to provide an express line for districts that were ready to start building. The first round of the program distributed $408 million to 78 "shovel ready" construction projects.

Under the regular School Facilities Program, LEAs have 18 months after they are approved for funding to submit a fund release' form to the Office of Public School Construction that signals they are ready to begin building.

In the priority round, districts have 90 days to submit the same form, which certifies that the LEA has approved local building contracts for 50 percent of the project's financing.

LEA's had from October 7 to November 8 to submit funding applications for the second priority round to the board. The 90 day clock to submit a fund release form began Wednesday. If a district does not submit the form to the state in 90 days, their status in the funding line may be rescinded.

In other action, the board approved a transfer of approximately $211 million from the Critically Overcrowded Schools Program into the Proposition 55 funding pot' of the New Construction Program.

Funds for new school construction have been in decline and concern has grown that the state bonds will become completely drained sometime this year.

New school construction draws funds from three Propositions - 55, 47, and 1D. With all those funding areas combined, the New Construction Program has about $300 million left.

The transfer of the $211 million is expected to further delay the triggering of level 3' developer fees, which would place the full cost of new school financing onto home builders and is considered a threat to the housing industry.

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