As budget issues remain unresolved, the administration has suggested its support for the elimination of the state’s program for approved school construction and renovation projects under the PlanCon program. PSBA and number of other organizations recently sent a joint letter to Gov. Wolf, strongly urging the state to continue to play a role in providing reimbursement for school construction, while acknowledging that the PlanCon approval process needs to be restructured. The groups also voiced support for the plan approved by the General Assembly that would finally pay the $5.3 billion owed to districts.
The groups note that even as the vast majority of school construction projects involve the renovation of an existing facility and not new construction, the constraints of Act 1 of 2006 prevent many school districts from being able to raise the resources necessary to complete such a project without state funding. Additionally, the downgrading of many school districts’ bond ratings, mostly as a result of rising pension costs, health care costs and charter school tuition costs, also makes borrowing for school construction projects much more expensive for school districts and taxpayers. While local taxpayers already bear much of the burden of needed school construction or renovation projects, in the absence of state reimbursement for school construction, local taxpayers will be forced to carry an even greater share of the load.
Additionally, many school districts and career and technical centers are likely to be put in the untenable position of being forced to cut educational programs and staff to free up resources to address critical facility needs such as failing HVAC systems or leaking roofs. Contact Judy Shopp at [email protected] or 412.242.4400 with any questions.