In response to a Special Audit of the School Facilities Board and its Building Renewal Grant Fund management, Rep. Michelle Udall has introduced a bill that would make significant changes to how capital projects are managed.
Udall’s bill, HB 2679, would eliminate the School Facilities Board (SFB) and assign its duties to the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) and a School Facilities Oversight Board.
The bill, according to Udall, specifies that building renewal would be funded both through a formula distributed to schools on a per student basis as well as a state grant program for larger expenses.
“After years of unsuccessful efforts to fix the problems within the Schools Facilities Board, and given its most recent audit, it’s clear that big changes are necessary,” said Representative Udall. “It is time to eliminate the board and entrust the responsibility of building new schools and approving repairs to an agency that has a track record of efficient grant management and building oversight.”
The Special Audit found glaring conflicts-of-interest, and a gross lack of project monitoring.
According to the audit, $1.6 million in unspent Building Renewal Grant (BRG) Fund monies were found that could be available for other BRG projects. Auditors also identified 474 BRG projects with more than $49 million in unspent project award monies.
Rep. Kelly Townsend “applauded” the efforts of Udall. “Rep Udall has spent many hours seeking a solution to the School Facilities Board debacle.”
“I was shocked to learn of the gross mismanagement of the BRG funds, and the systemic inaction in their completing the much-needed repairs caused by water intrusion, damaged HVAC units, etc.,” stated Townsend. “Although the Legislature was in large part blamed for dilapidated school buildings, we in fact fully funded the School Facilities Board to their requested levels, yet the Board allowed a shocking number of projects to remain unfinished, potentially putting students and staff at risk.”
“We determined that the risk was due to mismanagement, but I am still awaiting the answer to my question as to why this was allowed to go on for so long,” concluded Townsend.
— James T Harris (@JamesTHarris) January 21, 2020