Penn Hills schools expect little impact from PlanCon funding bump
The expiration of a moratorium that blocked state funding for new school construction is good news for local leaders with plans for new buildings.
State officials also boosted the reimbursement program, known as PlanCon, by $10 million, for 2014-15. Still, Penn Hills School District Business Manager Rick Liberto is not optimistic about the chances of his district being reimbursed for projects, at least for now.
“Let me put that $10 million in perspective,” he said. “They owe us $4 million.”
Liberto isn't counting on the increase to the state's $296 million PlanCon budget making much of a dent in the backlog of projects awaiting reimbursement — including Penn Hills' two major construction projects.
PlanCon, short for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement when districts build new schools or additions.
The state instituted a moratorium on new projects in 2012. When the state budget was passed on July 10, the moratorium was lifted and the $10 million added. Meanwhile, Penn Hills still is awaiting reimbursement for paperwork submitted prior to the moratorium.
“The paperwork that we need to do to get that reimbursement is done and filed,” Liberto said. “With that said, we are supposed to be in the pipeline (to receive) something in the fall, which is what we were told by the governor's office in a recent email.”
The amount owed the district grows every six months, he said.
The latest addition will be completion of construction on the Penn Hills Elementary School, which opens in early August. But the district still is owed state reimbursement for construction on the new Penn Hills Senior High School, which opened more than a year ago.
“We make our payments, and then we submit another application for reimbursement,” Liberto said. “It probably grows about $700,000 every six months.”
State legislation aimed at addressing PlanCon is awaiting action by the state Senate.
Rep. Seth Grove's (R-York) House Bill 2124 streamlines the PlanCon process from 11 steps to five and, according to Grove, will allow the state to save money by making one-time lump-sum reimbursements of up to 75 percent for school districts. Grove said more than $1 billion is owed to districts throughout Pennsylvania.
The state House of Representatives passed House Bill 2124 in mid-June, and it was assigned to the Senate education committee on June 20, where it currently sits.
A state Education Department report released in May outlined 200 PlanCon projects which are currently awaiting reimbursement.
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Weekly snack meeting with Penn Hills volunteers, students aims to make positive impact
- Imagine Penn Hills Charter School seeks a second location
- Charter school finds resistance from Penn Hills School District on expansion plans
- Penn Hills swimmers make their marks at WPIAL finals
- Beloved Oakmont food columnist shared more than recipes