South Carolina Legislature


 

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H 4547
Session 111 (1995-1996) 

H 4547 General Bill, By Stuart, J. Brown, T. Brown, A.W. Byrd, Cave, Clyburn, 
Cobb-Hunter, Cotty, J.G. Felder, Gamble, Govan, J.L. Harris, P.B. Harris, 
Harvin, M. Hines, J.H. Hodges, Inabinett, Kelley, Kennedy, Knotts, Koon, Lloyd, 
J.G. McAbee, McMahand, J.H. Neal, Neilson, Phillips, Rhoad, Riser, 
J.S. Shissias, Spearman, Wilder and Wilkes
 A Bill to amend Title 59, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to
 education, by adding Chapter 144 so as to enact the "Public School Facilities
 Assistance Act", to make funds available to construct and renovate public
 school and facilities, and provide for the manner in which and procedures by
 which these funds shall be allocated to the various recipients.

   02/06/96  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-174
   02/06/96  House  Referred to Committee on Education and Public
                     Works HJ-174



A BILL

TO AMEND TITLE 59, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO EDUCATION, BY ADDING CHAPTER 144 SO AS TO ENACT THE "PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES ASSISTANCE ACT", TO MAKE FUNDS AVAILABLE TO CONSTRUCT AND RENOVATE PUBLIC SCHOOL AND FACILITIES, AND PROVIDE FOR THE MANNER IN WHICH AND PROCEDURES BY WHICH THESE FUNDS SHALL BE ALLOCATED TO THE VARIOUS RECIPIENTS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"CHAPTER 144

Public School Facilities Assistance Act

Article 1

General Provisions

Section 59-144-10. This chapter may be cited as the `Public School Facilities Assistance Act'. Funds available from the Educational Assistance Endowment Fund, as established in Chapter 143 of this title, must be used for the purposes of the Public School Facilities Assistance Act as provided in this chapter.

Section 59-144-20. For the benefit of the people of the State and the increase of their commerce, welfare, and prosperity, it is essential that the school districts of this State be assisted in obtaining adequate school facilities to assist youth in achieving the required levels of learning. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a measure of assistance to the school districts of this State in securing the facilities and structures which are needed to accomplish the goals and purposes of public education, all to the public benefit and good, to the extent and manner provided in this chapter.

Section 59-144-30. Funds made available through this chapter must be used for permanent school instructional facilities and fixed equipment including the costs for construction, improvement, enlargement, or renovation of public school facilities. However, after all construction and renovation needs identified in a district's school facilities improvement plan have been met, the district may request to use its allocation for payment of debt service. As used in this chapter, `school facilities' only includes facilities necessary for instructional and related purposes including, but not limited to, classrooms, libraries, media centers, laboratories, cafeterias, physical education spaces, related interior and exterior facilities, and the conduit, wiring, and powering of hardware installations for classroom computers or for area network systems. `School facilities' does not include unimproved real property, centralized district administration facilities, portable classrooms, or other facilities, including those normally identified with interscholastic sports activities.

Section 59-144-40. There is created the School Facilities Assistance Authority, hereinafter in this chapter referred to as the `authority'. The authority is declared to be a state agency and may exercise any power conferred upon it by this chapter in the performance of its duties and responsibilities. The authority shall consist of the members of the State Budget and Control Board who shall serve ex officio, and all the functions and powers of the authority under this chapter are hereby conferred upon the State Budget and Control Board in order to perform its duties and responsibilities under this chapter.

Section 59-144-50. In order to immediately assist school districts with their instructional facilities' needs, the authority may declare that up to two hundred million dollars shall be allotted to the several districts of this State for each of the first three fiscal years after the effective date of this chapter, including the year this chapter is enacted. However, the authority shall declare annually the amount to be allotted under this chapter for that year in order to assist with the instructional facilities' needs of the school districts and as is prudent to meet the requirements of the Educational Assistance Endowment Fund over time. A school district may accumulate its allotments for up to seventy-two months to meet the facilities' needs identified in its capital improvement plan.

Section 59-144-60. Of the total amount made available for allotments to the school districts, a specified amount must be set aside for a Special Needs Grants program by the authority. These funds must be used pursuant to Section 59-144-220 for established critical needs where a lack of financial resources prevents significant progress in meeting those needs. The funding for this Special Needs Grants program shall not exceed ten percent of the total funds available for allotments to the school districts. Any unallocated funds from the Special Needs Grants program must be reallocated annually to the school districts using the formula established by this chapter.

Article 2

School Facilities Assistance Allocation

Section 59-144-100. Funds made available under this chapter must be allotted annually to the school districts using formulas based on facilities' needs, past fiscal effort in providing for facilities, and district wealth. This allocation shall be made in the following manner: (a) Fifty percent of the funds allocated annually to the several school districts for facilities' needs must be distributed based on a standardized assessment of the districts' needs for facilities using a uniform estimate of costs as established in Section 59-144-120. Individual district allotments must be based on the district facilities' need relative to the state total facilities' need. For the first year's allotment, however, the school districts' facilities' needs must be defined as the amount of needs reported in the 1994 Department of Education Facilities Report. For the first two years of the program, district allotments must be adjusted for an overstatement or an understatement of need. As the uniform assessment of needs and the standardized cost allowances are implemented and as district facilities' needs are verified, subsequent district allotments must be adjusted to correct for an overstatement of needs in any previous year.

(b) Twenty-five percent of the funds allocated annually to the school districts must be distributed based on equalized effort defined as the prior five years' average expenditures for capital projects and debt service, including lease-purchase obligations, for school instructional facilities divided by the average assessed value of all property subject to ad valorem school taxation and adjusted to reflect an equalized per pupil mill value. Individual district allotments must be based on a district's equalized effort relative to the state total equalized effort. The amount included for lease-purchase obligations shall not include the costs of utilities or operation and maintenance of the leased facility.

(c) Twenty-five percent of the funds allocated annually must be distributed based on relative district wealth. Individual district allotments must be based on the prior year's Education Finance Act allocation relative to the state total allocation except that an adjustment must be made to provide a minimum factor as established by the State Board of Education so that a district shall qualify for a minimum amount of funding.

(d) A district's annual allotment must be the sum of the three amounts calculated as provided in this section. Funds from a district's allotment shall be made available as needed once approval is received from the State Board of Education pursuant to Chapter 23 of this title.

Section 59-144-110. The State Board of Education shall establish and appoint a twenty-member advisory committee to assist in developing guidelines, regulations, and standards pursuant to this chapter. The State Superintendent of Education shall recommend members for the advisory committee which shall include individuals with backgrounds in the following areas:

(a) capital improvements financing;

(b) building construction;

(c) school building design;

(d) district finances;

(e) district administration;

(f) local boards of trustees;

(g) classroom instruction; and

(h) educational facilities requirements at the primary, elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Members of the committee shall receive mileage, subsistence, and per diem as provided by law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions to be paid from Public School Facilities Assistance Act funds. The members of the advisory committee shall serve at the pleasure of the State Board of Education.

Section 59-144-120. The State Board of Education responsibilities in regard to this chapter include:

(1) adopting policies, guidelines, and standards for a comprehensive school facility survey with annual updates to be undertaken by every district. The survey shall include a description of all existing school facilities and a list of needed renovations, modifications, and new construction projects. The Department of Education shall provide consultation and technical assistance with regard to the survey. The survey must be filed with the Department of Education and may be revised by the district following established guidelines. No school district which has not assisted with and complied with this survey is eligible to receive funds under this chapter. This comprehensive survey shall serve as the basis for a uniform statewide school facilities inventory and data base on building conditions and maintenance management. To this end, the Department of Education shall review district surveys to ensure complete and uniform reporting;

(2) adopting policies, guidelines, and regulations for district five-year comprehensive school facilities' improvement plans with annual updates. Local school district facilities construction plans shall include, but are not limited to, a list of construction projects currently eligible for funding under this chapter, school facilities projected as needed five years in the future, and proposed new construction, alterations, and renovations as appropriate for instructional programs to be listed in priority order;

(3) developing policies, guidelines, and standards for a uniform assessment of facilities' needs and standardized cost allowances for estimating the cost in meeting these needs in order to provide for a systematic reporting of each district's needs to be used in calculating the allotment of funds under Section 59-144-100. Facilities' needs include, but are not limited to, facility need capacity and condition, space requirements, program standards, and pupil growth. Costs allowances shall be developed to include such measures as costs per square foot, costs per pupil, or costs per teaching unit with such costs adjusted annually to reflect changes in the cost of labor and materials. These standards and cost allowances are to be used only for providing a uniform reporting of districts' needs for formula allotment purposes and are not intended to limit district options in determining the most appropriate manner in which to meet individual district needs;

(4) developing policies and guidelines for school districts to notify the State Board of Education of the anticipated times of expenditures from district allotments;

(5) adopting policies, standards, and regulations to ensure the accuracy of district reporting required under this chapter and the use of funds disbursed under this chapter; and

(6) establishing policies, standards, and regulations for determining projects eligible for funding under the Special Needs Grants program due to:

(a) extraordinary growth of student population in excess of the efficient operating capacity of existing facilities;

(b) replacement of educational facilities certified by the Department of Education as hazardous to health and safety;

(c) needed renovations, modernization, or replacement of educational facilities in order to correct deficiencies which produce educationally obsolete or inaccessible environments;

(d) natural disasters; and

(e) consolidation of school attendance areas to improve efficiency and offer a broader range of educational programs for students.

Section 59-144-130. Every three years by December first beginning with the year 1998, the State Board of Education shall report to the General Assembly the projected five-year school facilities' improvement requirements reported by the school districts, the needs identified since the last report, and those previously identified needs addressed since the last report.

Section 59-144-140. The Department of Education's responsibilities shall include:

(1) providing staffing assistance to the State Board of Education and the advisory committee in the development of policies, guidelines, standards, and regulations implementing this chapter;

(2) providing technical assistance to school districts in completing the comprehensive school facilities' survey and annual updates and assisting districts in developing their five-year comprehensive school facilities' improvement plans;

(3) ensuring compliance with state standards and requirements, inspecting construction projects for education facilities, and approving completed construction pursuant to Chapter 23 of this title for projects financed in whole or in part with funds allocated under this chapter. To assist with the inspection of construction projects, the State Board of Education may designate selected local units of administration which have staff qualified to conduct the inspections to act on behalf of the Department of Education; and

(4) reviewing each district's school facility surveys, funding applications, and financial reports to ensure compliance with the intent of this chapter.

Section 59-144-150. To qualify for funds under this chapter, each school district shall meet the conditions and qualifications provided for in this chapter. Funds must be withheld from districts when inappropriate reporting of facilities' needs is found or when inappropriate use of funds is documented.

Section 59-144-160. To accomplish the statewide uniform facilities' inventory and data base and to assist districts with the comprehensive facilities' improvement plans, the authority shall release to the Department of Education for this purpose up to two hundred thousand dollars from Public School Facilities Assistance Act funds for each of the first three years after the effective date of this chapter including the year this chapter is enacted. The department may carry forward these funds for use for the same purpose in subsequent years.

Section 59-144-170. By December 1, 1998, the State Board of Education shall recommend to the General Assembly changes to be made to this chapter regarding program objectives, appropriate funding levels, and funding allotment formulas.

Article 3

Special Needs Grants

Section 59-144-200. Special Needs Grants funding shall be made available to school districts through the Joint Bond Review Committee. Facilities' needs approved by State Board of Education and determined to be eligible for this Special Needs Grants program must be forwarded to the Joint Bond Review Committee for a determination of the projects to be funded annually.

Section 59-144-210. The State Board of Education shall report to the Joint Bond Review Committee the applications for projects which are eligible for Special Needs Grants funding. The Joint Bond Review Committee shall rank the eligible projects by priority statewide on the basis of facility need capacity and condition, district ability to fund, pupil growth, and district past efforts to fund instructional facilities. The grants provided under this Special Needs Grants program for eligible educational facilities do not need to be identical among all grant recipients, but may take into consideration a district's fiscal capacity and past efforts to meet facility needs.

Section 59-144-220. To assist school districts of this State in providing adequate school facilities under the Special Needs Grants program, the Joint Bond Review Committee may enter into grant agreements with school districts to finance a portion of the cost of a project due to:

(1) extraordinary growth of student population in excess of the efficient operating capacity of existing facilities;

(2) replacement of educational facilities certified by the Department of Education as hazardous to health and safety;

(3) needed renovations, modernization, or replacement of educational facilities in order to correct deficiencies which produce educationally obsolete or inaccessible environments;

(4) natural disasters; and

(5) consolidation of school attendance areas to improve efficiency and offer a broader range of educational programs for students.

Section 59-144-230. Before implementing the Special Needs Grants program, the Joint Bond Review Committee, in conjunction with the State Board of Education, shall adopt regulations as needed to implement the program, including:

(1) any continuing requirements that must be met by a school district and by a project after the giving of state grants or during the term of the grant;

(2) requirements for the planning, design, construction, and completion of a project or portion of a project to be financed in whole or in part with a state grant, to be consistent with existing provisions of law and State Board of Education regulations and guidelines;

(3) the manner in which a participating school district shall give evidence of satisfactory financing for that portion of the school district's match which shall be required as part of the grant agreement with the district.

Section 59-144-240. A school district's match for the Special Needs Grants program may be met in whole or in part with current funds on hand, district allotment from the school building fund, and the Education Improvement Act building fund, or from the proceeds of local obligations, including general obligation bonds, use agreements, or similar obligations.

Section 59-144-250. A district which has not complied with the requirements of Section 59-144-120 is not eligible to receive funds from the Special Needs Grants program. Funds from a district's allotment shall be made available as needed once approval for the project is received from the State Board of Education pursuant to Chapter 23 of this title. Funds shall be withheld from districts when inappropriate reporting of facilities' needs is found or when inappropriate use of funds is documented.

Article 4

School Facilities Assistance for School Districts

Section 59-144-300. The authority, in its role as manager of the Educational Assistance Endowment Fund, may assist school districts of this State in providing school facilities, and for this purpose the authority may:

(1) adopt regulations for the conduct of its affairs and business;

(2) adopt an official seal and alter it;

(3) maintain an office at a place it designates;

(4) sue and be sued in its own name;

(5) use such state funds as appropriated by the General Assembly for the purposes of this chapter;

(6) do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

Section 59-144-310. In addition to any other contractual remedies, a grant agreement may be enforced according to its terms and conditions in the circuit court of this State, and the court may utilize the process of injunction or mandamus to effect the enforcement of the agreement.

Section 59-144-320. School districts may perform acts, take actions, adopt proceedings, and make and carry out grant agreements which are contemplated by this chapter. The grant agreements do not need to be identical among all participants in the financing of the authority but may be structured as determined by the authority according to the needs of the participating school districts and the authority.

Section 59-144-330. All expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of this chapter are payable solely from funds as prescribed in this chapter and no liability may be incurred by the authority beyond monies provided under the provisions of this chapter. The State may make allocations or grants of money or property to the authority to enable it to carry out its purposes and for the exercise of its powers. This section may not be construed to limit any other power to make grants to the authority.

Article 5

Other Entity Funding

Section 59-144-400. The Department of Juvenile Justice, the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, the John de la Howe School, and the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind also shall be annually allocated funds from the Educational Assistance Endowment Fund for facilities needs on a per pupil basis using on weighted pupil units for one hundred percent of their allocations. For purposes of these allocations only, all pupils of these schools are considered K-12 pupils.

Section 59-144-410. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a district that participates in a multi-district career center shall distribute to the center a portion of the district's allocation under this chapter on a per pupil basis based on the percentage of time its students spend at the career center.

Section 59-144-420. The entities referred to in Section 59-144-400 also are eligible for special needs grants in the manner the Joint Bond Review Committee shall determine. Facilities needs of these entities and the resulting special needs grant allotments also shall be determined by the Joint Bond Review Committee in the same manner school district needs and special needs grant allotments are determined to the extent possible."

SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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