Senator DeLeon Holds Regional Hearing on Proposition 39 in Riverside
Special to SEC from Ted Rozzi, Assistant Superintendent, Facilities - Corona-Norco Unified School District
I had the opportunity today to provide testimony at a hearing held by Senator Kevin de León (D - Los Angeles) regarding the implementation of Proposition 39. The hearing was held at the Riverside Adult School auditorium and the Legislators leading the discussion included Senator de León, Senator Richard Roth (D - Corona), Assemblyman Jose Medina (D - Riverside) and Brian Nestande (R - Palm Desert).
The hearing started with Senator de León providing background information on Prop 39 and then asking Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young and myself to come up and provide an opening statement and then take questions. Our portion of the hearing lasted from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Legislators asked about the specific energy conservation measures implemented by CNUSD, the annual utility cost impact to CNUSD (total approx. $8 million - $6.3 million in electricity) and the possible energy conservation measures that CNUSD would undertake if the District could secure Prop 39 funds. From information provided by Paul Parker, I indicated the District would prioritize lighting replacements, heating and cooling unit replacements and energy management systems (EMS) installations as our top energy conservation projects.
The second series of questions centered around how Prop 39 grants should be allocated and which state agency should be the gatekeeper. I responded that I favored allocation by project versus by ADA. I indicated a school district should have an inventory of District facility and energy conservation as a baseline, should apply by project and be able to justify through any acceptable audit process how the Prop 39 funds were spent. The Legislators also asked how a school district's specific economic or free and reduced lunch percentage might be factored into any required local match. I responded that a school district's local match requirement could be reduced by verified economic or financial constraints but I was concerned that any allocation by ADA could be blended with Prop 98 or LCFF funding and used for operational costs.
The Legislators asked about which state agency would be the appropriate gatekeeper of the funds. Senator de León indicated that he had included the Office of Public School Construction as a possible allocation agency. I responded that in 2001-02, the Federal Government had provided school improvement funds that were dispersed through the California Department of Education that was a very simple and successful program. However, I also indicated OPSC could be an acceptable allocation agent as long as the allocation was not complicated by bureaucratic reviews and Division of State Architect (DSA) addition work requirements.
The final question asked by Assemblyman Medina (as a former teacher) concerned how I believed energy conservation projects should be prioritized. I responded that I believed those projects which directly improved the learning environment (lighting, heating and cooling) should be considered a higher priority than generation projects (solar). By the end of my testimony, I believe the Legislators appreciated my school district specific experiences and responded they would take my comments into consideration in the final implementation of Proposition 39.