The Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education on Thursday approved a resolution that will speed up its building projects exponentially by removing the Kentucky Department of Education from the approval process for construction projects until June 20, 2024.
This resolution is made possible through House Bill 678.
According to the bill, which was signed by the governor earlier this month, the requirement for boards of education to receive approval from the state “to commence the funding, financing, design, construction, renovation or modification of district facilities” will be suspended.
This will, the bill states, “provide for an expedited process for approval of district facility plans and the acquisition and disposal of property.”
Sara Harley, DCPS director of finance, updated board members on this bill earlier this week during a luncheon meeting, at which point she said this bill means the district will not have to go through the “extra hoops” of sending construction items to Frankfort before they begin. She also told board members about a situation the district is dealing with at this time that will be impacted by the resolution.
School board members approved the design documents for roofing projects the district intends to complete over the summer. Before the district is able to begin the bid process for those projects, KDE has to approve the initial design documents and the BG-3, which is a statement of probable cause.
“We still do not have that approval back from KDE, so we cannot send those items for bid,” Harley said. “That construction bid has to be up for 21 days. Let’s say, best-case scenario, they (approve the BG-3) tomorrow. We would send out the bids and would present them to you at our May meeting. Then the bids and the contract have to go back to KDE for them to approve before we can execute the contract.”
In that best-case scenario, she said, the district wouldn’t be able to start the projects until July. By approving the resolution, the district can immediately send those items out to bid, and as soon as the board approves the bids at the May meeting, the projects can begin as soon as possible.
James Morgan, board member, asked Harley if KDE is short staffed, and that is why this decision was made by the legislature.
“They are short staffed, and I don’t know if you are aware of this, but they also have not returned to the office,” she said. “They are all working remotely. It has just slowed down an already slow process.”
Matt Robbins, DCPS superintendent, said KDE working remotely has “caused us a significant problem, to say the least.”
He said the legislator who drafted the bill realized the delays due to the KDE approval process for construction projects is costing an inordinate amount of money.
Also included in the bill, Harley said, is that KDE will be reviewing, revamping and improving its processes for handling such matters.
Bobbie Hayse, [email protected], 270-691-7315