SACRAMENTO–The State of California allocated $960.7 million for school construction projects across the state this week, the largest distribution of school facility funds in more than a year. These state matching funds will help finance 185 school construction projects by local school districts.
At its monthly meeting the State Allocation Board also approved the funding of a $4.5 million school modernization project at the Calexico High School as part of the state’s effort to help school districts impacted by the recent earthquake in Imperial County.
“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children, and this fast tracked funding for the Calexico area will help ensure our kids are able to learn in a safe environment,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “My Administration is committed to doing everything we can to help those affected by the recent earthquake get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible. And, this is exactly the type of action that will help this area rebuild and recover.”
The Calexico project was financed as a result of new funding now available to school districts statewide due to recent bond sales by the Treasurer’s Office. Given the emergency state of affairs in that area due to the recent earthquake, the Office of Public School Construction, the state agency that handles applications for state funding from school districts, expedited the fund release request for the Calexico High School project. The local district will receive the cash transaction in a few days rather than the more typical four week process.
“I’m extremely pleased that not only have we been able to help Imperial County schools quickly get to work modernizing their classrooms,” said Ron Diedrich. Acting Director of the Department of General Services, “but also that this new financing will get a number of classroom construction projects moving all over the state with the help of construction bonds and put many Californians back to work.”
Funding the Calexico project, which had been previously approved but was on a list of projects awaiting funding, was part of a series of actions recommended by the State Allocation Board. At the same meeting, in addition to apportioning funds to many statewide projects, the Board agreed to consider neighboring San Pasqual Valley School District’s three approved projects for funding acceleration based on health & safety reasons, and offered relocatable (modular) classrooms and help in working with Federal Emergency Management Agency programs to local school districts in Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego counties that were affected by the recent Baja earthquake.
The Office of Public School Construction worked closely with the Division of the State Architect and the California Emergency Management Agency to quickly analyze the structural damage to schools in the region in the days following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that was centered in Baja California on April 4. On April 5, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency in Imperial County and signed Executive Order S-06-10 — a preliminary step in securing federal disaster funding.
The State Allocation Board (SAB) is responsible for determining the allocation of voter-approved school construction bonds, as well as the administration of the School Facility Program, the State Relocatable Classroom Program, and the Deferred Maintenance Program. The SAB is the policy level body for programs administered by the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC), which provides the staff and support for state financing of school facilities. Funds for these projects are provided by bonds authorized under Propositions 1D, 47 and 56. The Division of the State Architect (DSA) reviews all public school plans to ensure structural integrity, supervises onsite construction inspection to verify adherence to the seismic standards of the Field Act, and monitors fire, life and safety standards as well as disability access. Both the OPSC and DSA are part of the Department of General Services.