Ms. Tyson opened the meeting thanking Mrs. Jackson for meeting with Ms Tyson and her staff last spring and strengthening the relationship between DCSS and GADOE.
Facilities Service Unit of GAOE :
Lynn Jackson began with explaining her department’s role:
- Long range planning with the school systems
- Help school systems to acquire funding.
- Review to make sure new construction to is safe and adequate for instructional needs
DCSS is losing 184 students per year.
By law, each school system has to develop a Long-range facilities plan to be updated every 5 years. This plan is required for school system to be eligible for state funds. This plan should be adhered to with no “knee-jerk changes”. Any changes to the plan need to be approved by the BOE and forwarded to Ms. Jackson’s department.
June thru August is when school systems submit their applications for state funding. The funding requests must cover projects that are in the school systems current facilities plan as submitted to the GADOE. (my comment: you can see why DCSS cannot wait for a new Super to get the redistricting, consolidation/closing plan in place. If the system wants to be able to request state funds this all has to be in place by June.)
The current School Organization and Justification plan for DCSS, submitted 3 years ago, is “all over the place” according to Ms. Jackson.
The plan DCSS submitted 3 years ago contained the following FTE plans:
1. Why would a school system ever plan for schools below the minimum enrollment needed to earn FTE?
2. Wadsworth Magnet ES and DSA are both facilities that jumped out at me that are under the minimum FTE count. How to increase enrollment in these facilities?
Also, Ms. Jackson made the point that schools must have a minimum of 450 to qualify for specials such as Art, Music. Are you listening DCSS BOE????
Ms. Jackson made the comment more than once that is may be better to close older facilities than to keep contributing money and resources to renovate these buildings.
• Pre-K is not part of the FTE count
• Pre-K rooms are counted as surplus rooms by the GADOE
• Pre-K space is not funded via Capital Outlay
Will this become an issue? Will DCSS look to discontinue the Pre-K program in DCSS, which has the longest waiting list for Pre-K students in the state of GA?
When school system deems a facility is too old and it will cost more to upkeep than it is worth.
Once a facility has been phased-out it can longer be used for FTE purposes; Pre-K; Lease to Charter
If area repopulates, DOE may allow building to be used temporary with promise of new facility. Hooper ES was an example of a building that has been “phased-out”.
A question was asked if population changes in a certain area can the facility that was phased-out be reopened by DCSS. The answer was “No”. The reason the facility was phased-out was due to its age and condition, so why would you want to reopen this facility for students? Ms. Jackson did say they would work on a case-by-case basis, and perhaps they would give permission for the school to be used while a new facility was being built, but it a phased out site would never be allowed to be reopened for ongoing use.
QSCB which DCSS just recently approved must be used within 3 years of the bonds being sold. Ms. Jackson said that the school system should already have project plans for the use of this money. The use of these funds WILL be audited.
QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds). This was a new term for the board. These are tax-free bonds that available at $10 million per project. These funds can be used for renovations, modifications, equipment, staff development. This is something the school system look into as far as additional funding.
DCSS currently has accumulated $16,135.415 dollars that it has available to request for projects.
Ms. Jackson also pointed out that there are funds approved in 2004 that have not been used and must be used before February of next year or they are lost to the school system. I don’t think she indicated the amount.
One of the BOE members asked about COPS (Certificate of Participation) projects. No state funds are available. These projects are funded at the local level.
What I learned was how involved the State DOE is in the whole facilities/construction process.
If a school system is buying property for a new site, the GADOE must approve before the site is purchased or the school system might not receive any funds for the project. Prior to purchase the DOE requires an environmental study and a risk hazard analysis of the site.
The GADOE must also approve the purchase of additional acreage, additions to existing school sites, and privately owned sites (such as buildings that house school system charter schools). .
Charter schools, school system and other, are not exempt from these rules. Ms. Jackson’s staff recently met with the GA Charter Commission to have them tighten up the requirement that a Charter application must be submitted with a site approval from the GADOE. Without site approval by the GADOE, no school code will be issued. No school code, no state funding.
You can view Lynn Jackson's presentation here:
The video of the meeting is found here: