Today the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) hosted the first meeting to receive stakeholder input on a proposed regulation to cease accepting applications once bond authority has been exhausted. CASH wants to thank all of our members and coalition partners who attended the meeting and spoke against the proposed regulation.
Members of the CASH leadership team expressed strong opposition to the proposal. CASH Chair Don Ulrich (Clovis USD) explained that the proposed regulation would violate existing statute. Education Code Section 17070.25 clearly states that the Department of General Services “shall” be prepared to receive and act upon applications. Mr. Ulrich also requested that OPSC provide a summary of the feedback received in the stakeholder sessions at least 10 days prior to the State Allocation Board (Board) meeting at which the item will be brought back for discussion. CASH Vice Chair Julie Arthur (Palm Springs USD) challenged assertions made in OPSC’s item from the June 27, 2018 agenda, including rebuttals to arguments about inequity, future program enhancements, outdated eligibility, and expired state agency approvals. CASH Board Member Alan Reising (Long Beach USD) raised concerns about process and lack of time for stakeholder engagement, and he indicated that the proposal violates the state’s obligation to help fund school facilities.
Stakeholders provided over two hours of testimony and comments. Many expressed that the proposal left the impression that the state is uninterested in continuing to be a partner with local communities on school facilities. Themes and issues raised in this testimony included, but were not limited to, the following:
- Impacts on the ability to levy Level II developer fees
- Impacts to local bond elections
- Challenges to long-term project and financial planning, and the importance of continuity
- The lists are an expression of need
- The proposal disadvantages the types of districts (small/Financial Hardship) identified as the impetus behind the proposal
- Perceived inequities or challenges with the program may be addressed by more expeditious processing of applications
- A willingness to work in partnership with the state to address concerns with the School Facility Program (SFP).
OPSC staff indicated that they will take back and absorb the stakeholder comments, and directed attendees to the OPSC website for information about future activities on this issue. CASH encourages its members to remain actively engaged in efforts to preserve the SFP.
The full regulatory proposal can be found here.
~ Rebekah Cearley, Legislative Advocate