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Association of California School Administrators

Association of California School Administrators

Grants help schools improve air quality

April 12, 2021
Two new grant programs are aimed at improving air quality, energy efficiency and plumbing in schools, according to a recent client news brief from Lozano Smith.
Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020, Assembly Bill 841 created the “School Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program” (the SEES Program) which, in turn, created the two new grant programs.
Funded by electric and gas companies, the SEES Program establishes:
1) The School Reopening Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair Program (SRVEVR); and 2) The School Noncompliant Plumbing Fixture and Appliance Program (SNPFA). The SEES Program will be administered by the California Energy Commission and priority for both programs will be given to schools in “underserved communities” as defined in the program guidelines.
Funding will be available for three years — from 2021 to 2023 — as follows:
SRVEVR funding will be awarded to school districts and charter schools for HVAC assessment, maintenance, repair, and improvements designed to enable schools to reopen with improved air quality and ventilation systems. Where specified requirements are met, reimbursement for work already performed may be available under SRVEVR. As discussed below, schools awarded funding under SRVEVR will also be required to install carbon dioxide monitoring devices in classrooms.
SNPFA funding will be awarded to school districts, and charter schools for the replacement of plumbing fixtures and appliances that fail to meet water efficiency standards.
While the CEC is still developing guidelines for both programs, the following are statutory deadlines
applicable to both programs:
On or before April 1, 2021: Utilities and/or the CEC begin to solicit grant applications.
No later than May 1, 2021: The CEC will adopt program guidelines and regulations.
May 1, 2021: The CEC will begin accepting grant applications.
The CEC’s proposed guidelines “currently address initial program awards, which are limited to projects for schools identified as being in an underserved community.”
SRVEVR and SNPFA grant awards are expected to be awarded under separate processes and separate applications must be submitted for each program in each funding round. LEAs may choose to participate in only one program or both programs. For the initial round of funding, CEC’s proposed guidelines indicate that only schools serving underserved communities may be included.
Under each program, schools will have 18 months to complete funded projects and an additional three months to submit final reporting documentation.
Neither AB 841, nor its proposed guidelines so far, specify a particular contractor selection process. Thus, it appears that multiple construction delivery methods can be utilized to complete projects funded under AB 841. Lozano Smith recommends reaching out to your legal counsel to determine the approach that is best suited for your school district.
For a link to draft guidelines on this program, read this news release at https://www.lozanosmith.com/news-clientnewsbriefdetail.php?news_id=3076.
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