York schools receive PlanCon reimbursements
- School districts in York County will receive $12.6 million in back payments from PlanCon.
- Districts had expected to see these reimbursements in 2015-16, but the state budget impasse prevented that.
- A new PlanCon Advisory Committee will be created to review the program.
School districts in York County will receive back payments for construction programs through the Planning and Construction Workbook (PlanCon) dating to the 2014-15 school year, according to state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.
PlanCon is a program that documents a school district's planning process for construction, provides justification to the public, ensures that districts are in compliance with state laws and establishes a level of reimbursement to the school for the construction, according to its website.
The payments total $12.6 million in York County and are reimbursements for projects in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. According to a news release sent on behalf of Grove, the PlanCon reimbursements were removed from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 state general-fund budgets.
Susan Green, the chief financial officer for Southern York School District, said the district, like many others, had budgeted the reimbursement in their 2015-16 school year. The district made payments to the debt bonds more than a year ago for which they would typically be reimbursed within a month. According to the news release, Southern York will receive a back payment of $1.04 million.
"We had counted on that money, so it's great that it's coming through," Green said.
The payments are coming now because of Act 25, passed this year, which approved the Commonwealth Financing Authority to issue bonds in order to pay schools what they were owed. The first round of back payments is expected this month, according to the news release. Statewide, schools will receive $206.5 million in reimbursements.
York County's reimbursements vary from $172,631 for Northeastern Area School District to $2.1 million for York City School District, the highest reimbursement in the county. York City School District's spokeswoman and superintendent did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Act 25 of 2016 also created a PlanCon Advisory Committee. The committee will review the program and make recommendations on May 15 on how to better it. The committee has already begun meeting and holding hearings across the state.
“For six years, I have been working with education stakeholders and my colleagues to ensure school districts receive timely state construction reimbursements and to reform the antiquated PlanCon process," Grove said in the news release. "I applaud the tremendous work PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) has done to ensure it was ready to distribute these funds to schools across the state as soon as the Commonwealth Financing Authority bond proceeds are received.”
Red Lion Area School District will receive $1.62 million in reimbursements. The district's PlanCon reimbursements come from the building of the Larry Macaluso Elementary School in 2009 and an addition onto the high school several years ago.
Tonjua Wheeler, the district's business manager, explained that the district will be using the funds to proceed with purchases it had to forgo. She couldn't speak specifically about what purchases would be made, but she said the district is discussing it.
"We lost out on interest income, and we had to defer purchases that our students needed on materials and equipment because we didn't receive this funding," Wheeler said.
Below is a list of York County school districts and the back payments each will receive:
- Central York: $861,167
- Dallastown: $874,577
- Dover: $809,360
- Eastern York: $599,625
- Hanover Public: $271,946
- Northern York: $470,599
- Northeastern: $172,631
- Red Lion: $1.62 million
- South Eastern: $740,389
- South Western: $668,294
- Southern York: $1.04 million
- Spring Grove: $1.01 million
- West Shore: $438,314
- West York: $383,627
- York City: $2.14 million
- York Suburban: $509,894