HARRISBURG – A vote today in the state House brings reform for Pennsylvania’s school construction process one step closer, Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) said. Grove authored House Bill 210
to address the loss of taxpayer and school district funds and to modernize the process.
“Right now, when a school district applies for reimbursement from the state on a construction or renovation project, it begins the Planning and Construction Workbook process, also known as PlanCon,” Grove said. “This is a complicated and outdated process, which involves 11 steps. To start the process, applicants have to wade through 200 pages and some steps even involve microfilm, which was state of the art in the 1920s. It is long past time for reform.”
According to a May 2014 Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) report, 290 projects are awaiting reimbursement, with a cost over $100 million. House Bill 210 provides savings of up to $112 million to move those projects forward.
House Bill 210 reforms PlanCon into the Accountability and Reducing Costs in Construction Process (ARC Con). ARC Con streamlines the process from 11 steps into five steps, which allows school districts to save time and money in the application process. ARC Con also attempts to save costs by focusing on the rehabilitation of old buildings rather than new construction.
Additionally, ARC Con saves the Commonwealth money while allowing school districts to receive their reimbursement faster through a one-time lump sum reimbursement of up 75 percent. Currently, districts could wait years before receiving their full reimbursement. Furthermore, lump sum payments reduce the need for schools to incur debt. Between 2002 and 2010, school district debt grew by 30 percent, or $7.2 billion.
“Progress was made last year when 58 projects were reimbursed by the Department of Education for their construction projects,” Grove said. “In addition, PlanCON received more funding in this year’s fiscal code. While that is good news, it is only a stop-gap measure. I appreciate the support of my House colleagues on this bill, which provides a permanent fix.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nick Ruffner