OFCC options presented at special meeting

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education held a special meeting to hear from Garmann Miller, the architect firm the board decided on for the district’s facilities project, about the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and the different programs the commission offers for school districts.

During the special meeting Tuesday evening Garmann Miller presented information about the OFCC’s Classroom Facility Assistance Program (CFAP) and the Expedited Local Partnership Program (ELPP) and how the programs can work for the Tipp City schools district. According to Garmann Miller representatives, Tipp City will benefit the most from the ELPP program.

ELPP requires a district to be over two years away from qualifying for CFAP and the creation of a district-wide master facility plan. The way ELPP works is a district will take a portion of the district-wide master plan to spend local resources on to complete which then establishes credit towards the local share when a district become eligible for CFAP.

There are four phases to completing an ELPP project. Phase one involves determining if a district is eligible for ELPP and then completing a board resolution of intent to participate. The resolution states what the board and the district plan to complete as their ELPP project and the approximate date when the district hopes to secure the local funds for the project. Finally, phase one ends with a district application to the OFCC.

The second phase of the ELPP process begins if/when OFCC approves a district’s application. This phase is where the district and OFCC create a master plan. The master facilities plan (MFP) includes assessments of the buildings; what are the conditions of the facilities in the district and what needs done to bring the buildings up to standard. OFCC then performs an enrollment projection for the next 10 years to determine how many students will likely be in the buildings and therefore how big the facilities need to be and what needs done to accommodate the maximum number of students in each building. Finally, the MFP includes “reprogramming” the existing spaces, i.e. cafeterias and gymnasiums, to provide corrected requirements.

Phase two has already started in Tipp City. Garmann Miller has been out to the facilities in the district to assess the buildings on Nov. 22 and 23 to validate reports from the district. However, the district still need to apply for ELPP with the OFCC, update their enrollment projection and MFP with OFCC using new information from the Garmann Miller assessments.

The third phase of the ELPP process is a final agreement between the district and the OFCC regarding the districts intended portions of the MFP and funding. The agreement shows the preliminary calculation of the future credit amount of the districts portion of the MFP that may be applied towards required local share under CFAP. The agreement also locks in the MFP numbers and the state and local percentages for one year.

The funding plan in the third phase is to be completed by the district’s treasurer and details how the school district plans to raise the money to complete the discrete portion, or the scope of the MFP that the district intends to complete as part of the ELPP project.

Finally, phase four is the actual ELPP project. This phase includes the development of the project design. Designs for projects done under ELPP must follow the Ohio School Design Manual (OSDM). There are four design phases that all require approval by the school board and a review from a third party OFCC commission. For the most part, the OFCC allows school districts to run the projects themselves, there are simply steps and communications required to allow the OFCC to ensure the district is following the rules set forth by the OFCC. The districts handle design, bidding, contract award, construction management, claims management and project close out.

There are reporting requirements for ELPP projects. The OFCC requires quarterly reviews to ensure compliance to the OSDM. The reviews involve a meeting between the OFCC, district treasurer, construction managers and potentially the superintendent or board members to discuss progress and any changes made during the construction process.

As stated previously, ELPP projects establish credit for the district if/when the district becomes eligible for CFAP. However, any work started or completed during the ELPP project that is abandoned or in need of replacement will not be counted towards the district’s credit under CFAP.

When an ELPP district becomes eligible for CFAP the MFP is updated and costs are recalculated. Recalculation includes the qualifying ELPP expenses and the district’s share is based on that number. Then, ELPP credit is deducted from the required local share to determine the district’s portion required for CFAP projects. Garmann Miller wanted to clear that depending on project costs and ELPP credit, the district could potentially need to raise more funds, but the district might also be reimbursed for overpaying their local share of CFAP during the ELPP projects. There are multiple factors that are considered when determining the local share of CFAP projects; inflation, the credit from the district’s ELPP project and where the district falls on the OFCC’s Equity Rank List which determines what percentage of funds the state and district are each responsible for under CFAP.

Following Garmann Miller’s presentation, the Tipp City Board of Education members had a couple of questions.

“Given what you know about our district so far, which of the programs or a combination of programs would provide the most funding for our school district? The ELPP, the CFAP or a combination of both?” asked Board member Richard Mains.

According to Garmann Miller representatives, CFAP is where most districts want to be as the district immediately receives funding from the OFCC while with ELPP the district is paying up front for a facilities project, making ELPP harder to convince citizens to participate in. While Tipp City Schools District is working its way towards CFAP eligibility, currently for 2023 the school is ranked 349 on the equity rank list, if OFCC accepts the district’s ELPP application it indicates that the district is more than two years away from CFAP eligibility and ELPP would be the best option to get the district started on updating their facilities.

“How and when do we find out if we are eligible for the CFAP?” asked Mains.

Garmann Miller has spoken with OFCC planners Valerie Montoya and Tyler Palmer regarding the districts eligibility for CFAP and according to Garmann Miller, Montoya and Palmer, who do not make the final decisions on eligibility, have stated that the Tipp City schools district is “getting close to CFAP.” There is no guarantee, but it is possible that the district could be eligible for CFAP within a year or two.

In the opinion of Garmann Miller, the district should apply for ELPP to get the process started. Even if the district is already in the ELPP program, if they become eligible for CFAP during the ELPP process there are ways to move into the CFAP program.