Lawmakers and Stakeholders Urge Action on PlanCON Reform to Ensure ‘Schools That Teach’ and ‘Government That Works’
HARRISBURG – Action is sorely needed to address Pennsylvania’s outdated school construction reimbursement process, a group of lawmakers, including Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover), said today. Grove authored House Bill 210 to address the loss of taxpayer and school district funds and to modernize the process. Companion legislation, Senate Bill 694 sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), recently gained committee passage in the Senate.

“As of right now, when a school district applies for reimbursement from the state on a construction or renovation project, it begins the Planning and Construction Workbook process, which is better known as PlanCon,” Grove said. “This is a very complex and archaic ordeal which involves 11 steps. To start the process, applicants have to wade through 200 pages and some steps even involve microfilm, which was state-of-the-art technology in the 1920s. Passing this legislation would be historic for Pennsylvania and prove a real commitment to ‘schools that teach’ and ‘government that works.’”

There are approximately 160 projects now awaiting reimbursements. Due to language adopted in the Fiscal Code last summer, $53 million is available for PDE to advance projects trapped by the previous moratorium and projects falling off this upcoming fiscal year.

House Bill 210 reforms PlanCon into the Accountability and Reducing Costs in Construction Process (ARC Con). ARC Con streamlines the process from 11 steps into five steps, which allows school districts to save time and money. ARC Con also attempts to save costs by focusing on the rehabilitation of old buildings rather than new construction.

Additionally, ARC Con saves the Commonwealth money while allowing school districts to receive their reimbursement faster through a one-time lump sum reimbursement of up 75 percent. Currently, districts could wait years before receiving their entire reimbursement. Furthermore, lump sum payments reduce the need for schools to incur debt. Between 2002 and 2010, school district debt grew by 30 percent, or $7.2 billion.

“We made progress in this effort last year, after 58 schools were reimbursed by the Department of Education for their construction projects,” said Rep. Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion), chairman of the House Education Committee. “This is a step in the right direction but also represents a temporary fix. The administration needs to make it a priority to reimburse school districts what they are owed and reform an archaic system.”

Representative Seth Grove
196th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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