Act 97 of 2011 (Increase to School District Bid Limits) and Act 101 of 2011 (Safety in Youth Sports Act)

First, Act 97 of 2011 amends provisions applicable to bidding, price quotes and construction.  Specifically, Act 97 modifies Sections 751 and 807.1 of the School Code, 24 P.S. §§ 7-751 and 8-807.1.  The amendment to Section 751 raises the threshold for which school districts are required to engage in competitive bidding for construction, repairs, maintenance or other work from $10,000 to $18,500.  Further, the previous threshold of $4,000 for the requirement that school districts obtain three (3) telephone price quotes to have construction work done has been raised to $10,000, and the maximum value of construction or repairs for which a district may use its own personnel has been raised from $5,000 to $10,000.  Finally, the limit of a designated school employee’s ability to award construction or repair contracts has been increased from $10,000 to $18,500.  With regard to Section 807.1, concerning purchase of supplies, a school district may now buy equipment, textbooks, supplies or other appliances with a value of $18,500 without the formal bid process, an increase from the prior $10,000 limit.  Further, a district is not required to obtain three telephone quotations until the cost of supplies being purchased reaches $10,000, an increase from the prior $4,000 threshold. 

While many school districts previously obtained mandate waivers in order to increase the bid and purchase thresholds, the new legislation raises the limits for all public school districts.  In addition, under the law, all of the increased thresholds discussed above may be adjusted on an annual basis in accordance with increases to the consumer price index.  Any CPI increase leading to a raise of a threshold will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin prior to January 1 of each calendar year, with the increased amounts effective for that year.  However, it is important to note that the new limits will not go into effect until January 1, 2013.  Until that time, your District should continue to apply the limits contained in the present statute or in any mandate waiver previously received.

Second, the Legislature passed Act 101 of 2011, titled the “Safety in Youth Sports Act.”  Act 101, which goes into effect on July 1, 2012, is designed to combat concussions sustained in youth sports activity.  Under the Act, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Department of Health are required to post online information regarding the nature and risk of concussions and brain injury resulting from athletic activity.  An information sheet developed by PDE and DOH to summarize the risks must be provided annually to families of students wishing to participate in athletics, who must indicate receipt and review of the information sheet.  Schools may choose to hold an annual meeting with students, families, coaches, school officials and medical professionals to discuss concussion risks, treatment, and recovery and the importance of baseline testing.

Most significantly, Act 101 imposes requirements on coaches when a student is observed to suffer from post-concussion symptoms during an athletic activity.  During any athletic activity—which is defined to include interscholastic sports, athletic competitions sponsored by a school entity or school club, noncompetitive cheerleading and practices for any such activity—a coach must immediately remove any player determined by a coach, game official, trainer or other medical professional to be suffering from symptoms of a concussion or other brain injury.  Under the new law, the student may not return to competition until after being evaluated and cleared in writing by an appropriate medical professional.  School districts may designate a particular medical professional, such as the school physician or other doctor, to determine whether student athletes are cleared to return to play, and such medical professionals are permitted to consult with other specialists and medical professionals in making that determination.

Under the new law, coaches must annually complete a concussion management certification training course, and may not coach until completing said course.  Further, a coach who fails to comply with the law’s requirements to pull concussed athletes with concussions from competition until they are cleared to return is subject to suspension for a first offense for the remainder of the season; for a second offense, suspension for the remainder of the season plus the following season; and for a third offense, permanent suspension.  While the new law will not become effective until the 2012-2013 school year, this will impose significant responsibilities on athletic coaches.

If you have any questions regarding either of these new laws, please contact Alfred Maiello at acm@mbm-law.net or 412.242.4400.