Facility bills threaten to raise school districts’ costs
Monday, April 12, 2021
Schools are hallowed ground, where students come to be educated and nurtured, but they are also businesses.
Districts are not trying to earn a profit, but they still must hire and manage staff, provide services and manage infrastructure. I have been tracking a significant number of facility-related bills this session that could deeply affect school district budgets, taking away from funds that could be spent on improving education.
These bills touch a wide array of areas, from air pollution to parking lots, from upgrading existing facilities to bonding for new buildings, and even architect liability for school structures. We have killed some troublesome bills, but other bills that could hurt schools’ bottom line have progressed.
In a session that has made advocacy difficult, I have been especially reliant on board member testimony. Their explanations of the real-world local impacts have been successful in moving legislators.
OSBA Board President-elect Scott Rogers, a commercial construction industry professional, has been instrumental in defending school districts from bills that would add complexity and expense to facility design and construction.
“In an already challenging and volatile construction environment, we need to provide opportunities to simplify the process and reduce cost,” said Rogers, the Athena-Weston School Board chair.
Rogers and I would urge you to contact your legislators and oppose these three bills in particular:
Senate Bill 493A, which would change the prevailing wage and could raise your labor costs in construction contracts as of Jan. 1, 2022.
Senate Bill 213, which would create potential district liability if a building had any construction or design issues down the road.
House Bill 2398, which would create building standards and add a 10% additional energy savings requirement, while also creating inconsistencies that would allow local governments to amend the building standards.
OSBA's Legislative Services is there for you if you need additional information to contact your legislator.