Initiative Signature Gathering on Track, Preparing for State Water Restrictions and Legislation
In last month’s Message from the Chair, I focused on two critical issues for the school facilities community: C.A.S.H.’s Californians for Quality Schools (CQS) State School Bond Initiative, and the Governor’s Executive Order B-29-15 regarding mandatory state water restrictions. In this month’s Message, I will update you on both of these key issues, as well as provide information about the Governor’s May Revision Budget and the status of school bond legislation.
Californians for Quality Schools
As we head into summer, the effort to gather signatures for the CQS Initiative is in high gear. To ensure the Initiative qualifies for the November 2016 ballot, we continue to need your help to ensure that we are successful. C.A.S.H. believes that the School Facility Program (SFP) has been a very effective state/local funding partnership that should continue. I urge you to contribute to our effort to ensure that a $9 billion statewide school bond qualifies for the November 2016 General Election Ballot. Please visit the C.A.S.H. Issues Committee website for the State School Bond Initiative and make a contribution. For more information about how you can help, please contact Aileen Dalen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Water Restrictions
Last month I outlined the Governor’s Executive Order B-29-15. I urge school districts to begin doing their part to conserve water, as water use and schools will continue to be a significant issue going forward.
Implementing the Governor’s Executive Order
To assist our members with this important responsibility, C.A.S.H. is working with the Division of the State Architect (DSA) on their efforts to develop emergency regulations for schools to help implement the Governor’s Executive order and has assembled a group of representatives from school districts to advise the DSA’s work. Specifically, DSA is proposing new water efficiency requirements for public school and community college irrigated landscape areas. The proposed changes to the 2013 California Green Building Standards Code require reductions in outdoor potable water use for both new construction and modernization projects. Specific requirements include irrigation regulations, separate water meters, and automatic controllers that adapt to changes in weather and soil moisture. The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) will consider the first of two proposed rulemakings on May 29, 2015; this first item will essentially serve as a placeholder, allowing DSA to further develop implementation details to bring back to the CBSC on July 21. If approved, the new requirements will apply to projects submitted to DSA on or after July 1, 2015.
C.A.S.H./SEC Water Workshop
To assist our members as they prepare to meet the requirements of the Executive Order in an environment of uncertainty, C.A.S.H. organized a comprehensive joint workshop series in May with the School Energy Coalition (SEC) aimed at bringing schools the most recent information available. The workshop included timely presentations from representatives of the State Water Board, State Architect Chet Widom, local water agencies, school districts, landscape architects and others. The workshops have been very well attended, and C.A.S.H. will continue to bring you the latest information on this critical topic at future C.A.S.H. workshops and conferences.
State Budget and Legislation
Governor’s May Revision
The Governor’s May Revision budget update was released on Thursday, May 14th, and it did not include any modifications or additional comments on the following school facilities proposals made in the January budget:
- Provide $273.4 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund resources for the Emergency Repair Program (ERP). This would retire the state’s facilities funding obligation under the terms of the Williams settlement.
- Provide $100 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding to support additional investments in internet connectivity and infrastructure.
Routine Restricted Maintenance Account (RRMA)
Under existing law, school districts that participate in New Construction and Modernization programs are required to set aside at least 3% of their annual general fund budget for routine maintenance, for 20 years after receiving state funds. Under Budget Flexibility commencing in 2008-09, this requirement was suspended, but it is set to return in 2015-16. Predictably, the result was that school maintenance budgets were the first to be cut and the last to be restored, if they have been restored at all. The Governor’s 2015-16 January State Budget and Proposed May Revision both include the return of the RRMA contribution in 2015-16.
On Wednesday, May 20, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2 on Education Finance approved a staff recommendation to, “…allow for the phase-in of the requirement (2% by 2017-18 and 3% by 2020-21).” The staff recommendation also includes language to, “…allow funds to be used for drought-related purposes.” On Thursday, May 21, the Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 on Education approved identical language. Because both houses of the Legislature have adopted the same action, it is likely that this change will be reflected in the final budget.
The Coalition for Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) was the only statewide education organization to oppose this proposal, arguing that budget flexibility has been devastating for school M&O departments. In addition, in light of significant new money for schools anticipated in the 2015 Budget Act, the 3% Routine Restricted Maintenance Account contribution should be fully required without the phase-in so schools can address critical health and safety issues on their school sites.
The May Revision decreases the amount of energy efficiency funds available to K-12 schools in 2015-16 by $6.7 million from the $320.1 million reported in the January Proposed Budget, to a total of $313.4 million in the May Revision. This allocation will fund the per ADA grants for the third year of the Proposition 39 program, which remains focused on K-14 schools. CDE will be posting the individual allocations for each LEA in the program once the budget is finalized. Both houses of the Legislature have approved the Governor’s proposal.
School Facilities Legislation
Three school bond bills have been introduced: SB 114 (Liu), AB 148 (Holden), and AB 1088 (O’Donnell). All three bills were approved by their respective policy committees and are currently in the appropriate fiscal committees, with the next step being whether they are held in committee or move to the other house. Other priority bills for which C.A.S.H. has taken a position or that staff is actively working include bills on pre-qualification, lease-leaseback, use of artificial turf, design-build contracts, school siting, door locks, military base schools, and other issues that have implications for school facilities. For a detailed report on the bills C.A.S.H. is following, please visit the C.A.S.H. Register section of the C.A.S.H. website (see “C.A.S.H. Legislative Update” on 5/28/15).
Click here to see upcoming C.A.S.H. workshops.