CONNstruction - Summer 2012 - (Page 9)

newsandviews Fiscal Challenges and Changes to School Construction Grant Process May Affect Contractors By Matthew Hallisey CCIA Director of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel Executive Director, Connecticut Environmental and Utilities Contractors Association School construction in Connecticut, at its most fundamental level, is—as it should be—about providing a quality learning environment for schoolchildren. A modern facility, adequately equipped, helps improve student performance and academic achievement. Connecticut overall has a good, solid school construction program with respectable annual funding compared to many other states. However, in an economy where budgets are scrutinized and local taxpayers shoulder an increasing burden, there is always pressure to reduce costs. One of those places has been in funding for school construction. In 2011, several changes to the school construction funding process were enacted that may affect construction contractors. The legislature and the Governor revised the school construction grant process, the role of state agencies and the Governor in the process, and the state’s financial participation in projects. This year, the legislature considered transferring from the Department of Construction Services to the Department of Administrative Services responsibility for existing bond authorizations for school construction. DCS, however, would retain authority regarding construction of these projects. These changes were in addition to those made in 2008 concerning the award of contracts for architectural or construction management services on school construction projects, and in 2009, limiting the state’s participation where change orders or directives exceed 5 percent of the project cost. Prior to last year, the state Department of Education was responsible for the entire school construction grant process, including reviewing and approving school building project grant applications from local and regional boards of education, establishing priority categories, making grant payments, and auditing the projects. Public Act 11-51 divided those responsibilities between SDE and DCS. The Act generally makes DCS responsible for most of the grant process while maintaining the Education commissioner’s responsibility to evaluate projects for compliance with certain educational requirements. Additionally, it makes numerous changes to project requirements and state reimbursement rates. The Construction Services commissioner is now responsible for construction, including adopting regulations concerning per-square-foot costs for school construction, determining whether reasonable lease costs must be part of a school construction grant, and requiring renovation projects to meet the same state and federal codes and regulations as alteration projects. Also, he is required to consult with the Education commissioner about, and is responsible for, modifying standard space specification requirements for certain projects; collecting, publishing and distributing information on procedures for school building committees, and building methods and materials suitable for school construction; reviewing the sketches and preliminary plans and outline specifications for school building projects; and advising boards of education and school building committees on the suitability of the plans on the basis of educational effectiveness, sound construction, and reasonable economy of cost. In addition to the changes in the grant process and the transfer of most responsibilities to DCS, the Act also made several changes in the requirements and reimbursement rates for state-funded school construction projects. Also, it established a School Building Projects Advisory Council to develop model blueprints for new projects; conduct studies, research, and analyses; and recommend improvements to the school building projects process. The Governor recently appointed several individuals to the council with experience in various sectors of the industry. The council also includes the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and the Construction Services Commissioner. Continuing economic uncertainty and fiscal constraints will pose challenges for contractors for the foreseeable future. During these difficult economic times with leaner budgets, contractors can expect state and local governments to continue to find ways to restrict funding for school construction and other capital projects. There will, however, always be a need for new school construction and renovation projects. Towns, school building committees and parents will continue to seek quality school construction projects of which they can be proud. Either way, contractors tors stand ready to build them. CONNstruction / Summer 2012 / 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2012

Old School
Fiscal Challenges and Changes to School Construction Grant Process May Affect Contractors
Connecticut Apprenticeship Programs: On the Job Scholarship
Time is Money: A Formula for Improving the State’s School Construction Process
Spreading the Word: Terry Wooding, Chair of the AGC of America’s Building Division
A Conversation with Pasquale “Bud” Salemi
2012 Build CT Winners
Large Renovation – Greater than $20 Million: O&G Industries, Inc.
Small Renovation – Less than $5 Million: Petra Construction Corporation
Specialty Contracting – Concrete Award: Manafort Brothers, Inc.
Other Specialty Award: United Steel Inc.
Honorable Mention Specialty - Interiors Award: M. Frank Higgins & Co., Inc.
ConsensusDOCS Offer an Alternative to Perceived Standard Agreements ConsensusDOCS includes more than
2012 AGC of CT Build CT Awards & Dinner
CRBA Spring Dinner Meeting
CRMCA Annual Meeting
Index to Advertisers /

CONNstruction - Summer 2012