§18-9D-16. Authority to establish guidelines and procedures for facilities and major improvement plans; guidelines for modifications and updates, etc.; guidelines for project evaluation; submission of certified list of projects to be funded; department on-site inspection of facilities; enforcement of required changes or additions to project plans.
(a) The authority shall establish guidelines and procedures to promote the intent and purposes of this article and assure the prudent and resourceful expenditure of state funds for projects under this article including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Guidelines and procedures for the facilities plans, school major improvement plans and projects submitted in the furtherance of the plans that address, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) All of the elements of the respective plans as defined in section two of this article;
(B) The procedures for a county to submit a preliminary plan, a plan outline or a proposal for a plan to the authority prior to the submission of the facilities plan. The preliminary plan, plan outline or proposal for a plan shall be the basis for a consultation meeting between representatives of the county and members of the authority, including at least one citizen member, which shall be held promptly following submission of the preliminary plan, plan outline or proposal for a plan to assure understanding of the general goals of this article and the objective criteria by which projects will be evaluated, to discuss ways the plan may be structured to meet those goals, and to assure efficiency and productivity in the project approval process;
(C) The manner, time line and process for the submission of each plan and annual plan updates to the authority;
(D) The requirements for public hearings, comments or other means of providing broad-based input on plans and projects under this article within a reasonable time period as the authority may consider appropriate. The submission of each plan must be accompanied by a synopsis of all comments received and a formal comment by the county board, the state board or the administrative council of an area vocational educational center submitting the plan;
(E) Any project specifications and maintenance specifications considered appropriate by the authority including, but not limited to, such matters as energy efficiency, preferred siting, construction materials, maintenance plan and any other matter related to how the project is to proceed;
(F) A prioritization by the county board, the state board or the administrative council submitting the plan of each project contained in the plan. In prioritizing the projects, the county board, the state board or the administrative council submitting the plan shall make determinations in accordance with the objective criteria formulated by the School Building Authority in accordance with this section. The priority list is one of the criteria that shall be considered by the authority deciding how the available funds should be expended;
(G) The objective means to be set forth in the plan and used in evaluating implementation of the overall plan and each project included in the plan. The evaluation must measure how the plan addresses the goals of this article and any guidelines adopted under this article, and how each project is in furtherance of the facilities plan and school major improvement plan, as applicable, as well as the importance of the project to the overall success of the facilities plan or school major improvement plan and the overall goals of the authority; and
(H) Any other matters considered by the authority to be important reflections of how a construction project or a major improvement project or projects will further the overall goals of this article.
(2) Guidelines and procedures which may be adopted by the authority for requiring that a county board modify, update, supplement or otherwise submit changes or additions to an approved facilities plan or for requiring that a county board, the state board or the administrative council of an area vocational educational center modify, update, supplement or otherwise submit changes or additions to an approved school major improvement plan. The authority shall provide reasonable notification and sufficient time for the change or addition as delineated in guidelines developed by the authority. The guidelines shall require an update of the estimated duration of school bus transportation times for students associated with any construction project under consideration by the authority that includes the closure, consolidation or construction of a school or schools.
(3) Guidelines and procedures for evaluating project proposals that are submitted to the authority that address, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Any project funded by the authority must be in furtherance of the facilities plan or school major improvement plan and in compliance with the guidelines established by the authority;
(B) If a project is to benefit more than one county in the region, the facilities plan must state the manner in which the cost and funding of the project will be apportioned among the counties;
(C) If a county board proposes to finance a construction project through a lease with an option to purchase pursuant to an investment contract as described in subsection (f), section fifteen of this article, the specifications for the project must include the term of the lease, the amount of each lease payment, including the payment due upon exercise of the option to purchase, and the terms and conditions of the proposed investment contract; and
(D) The objective criteria for the evaluation of projects which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(i) How the current facilities do not meet and how the plan and any project under the plan meets the following:
(I) Student health and safety including, but not limited to, critical health and safety needs;
(II) Economies of scale, including compatibility with similar schools that have achieved the most economical organization, facility use and pupil-teacher ratios;
(III) Reasonable travel time and practical means of addressing other demographic considerations. The authority may not approve a project after July 1, 2008, that includes a school closure, consolidation or new construction for which a new bus route will be created for the transportation of students in any of the grade levels prekindergarten through grade five to and from any school included in the project, which new bus route exceeds by more than fifteen minutes the recommended duration of the one-way school bus transportation time for elementary students adopted by the state board as provided in section five-d, article two-e of this chapter, unless the county has received the written permission of the state board to create the route in accordance with said section five-d;
(IV) Multicounty and regional planning to achieve the most effective and efficient instructional delivery system;
(V) Curriculum improvement and diversification, including the use of instructional technology, distance learning and access to advanced courses in science, mathematics, language arts and social studies;
(VI) Innovations in education;
(VII) Adequate space for projected student enrollments;
(VIII) The history of efforts taken by the county board to propose or adopt local school bond issues or special levies to the extent Constitutionally permissible; and
(IX) Regularly scheduled preventive maintenance; and
(ii) How the project will assure the prudent and resourceful expenditure of state funds and achieve the purposes of this article for constructing, expanding, renovating or otherwise improving and maintaining school facilities for a thorough and efficient education.
(4) Guidelines and procedures for evaluating projects for funding that address, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Requiring each county board's facilities plan and school major improvement plan to prioritize all the construction projects or major improvement projects, respectively, within the county. A school major improvement plan submitted by the state board or the administrative council of an area vocational educational center shall prioritize all the school improvement projects contained in the plan. The priority list shall be one of the criteria to be considered by the authority in determining how available funds shall be expended. In prioritizing the projects, the county board, the state board or the administrative council submitting a plan shall make determinations in accordance with the objective criteria formulated by the School Building Authority;
(B) The return to each county submitting a project proposal an explanation of the evaluative factors underlying the decision of the authority to fund or not to fund the project; and
(C) The allocation and expenditure of funds in accordance with this article, subject to the availability of funds.
(b) Prior to final action on approving projects for funding under this article, the authority shall submit a certified list of the projects to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
(c) The State Department of Education shall conduct on-site inspections, at least annually, of all facilities which have been funded wholly or in part by moneys from the authority or state board to ensure compliance with the county board's facilities plan and school major improvement plan as related to the facilities; to preserve the physical integrity of the facilities to the extent possible; and to otherwise extend the useful life of the facilities: Provided, That the state board shall submit reports regarding its on-site inspections of facilities to the authority within thirty days of completion of the on-site inspections: Provided, however, That the state board shall promulgate rules regarding the on-site inspections and matters relating thereto, in consultation with the authority, as soon as practical and shall submit proposed rules for legislative review no later than December 1, 1994.
(d) Based on its on-site inspection or notification by the authority to the state board that the changes or additions to a county's board facilities plan or school major improvement plan required by the authority have not been implemented within the time period prescribed by the authority, the state board shall restrict the use of the necessary funds or otherwise allocate funds from moneys appropriated by the Legislature for those purposes set forth in section nine, article nine-a of this chapter.