School Building Authority advances rule changes to reduce oversight

August 10, 2018

The West Virginia School Building Authority’s board voted Friday, in a voice vote with no nays heard, to advance proposed policy changes that would reduce the SBA’s regulations of the school construction and renovation projects it funds.

The new policy no longer would require counties to submit the list of architecture and engineering companies that have bid on their SBA-funded projects to the SBA for “review and evaluation” before the county picks a winner.

T he proposa l must be approved by the Legislature before it can go into effect.

Additionally, the proposals would delete about 100 pages of procedural rules that the SBA has changed in the past decade without getting ultimate approval from state lawmakers. Even though these 100 consist of sections under labels like “appendix,” their text is part of the legislative rule documents.

The SBA uses state general revenue, bond proceeds and lottery money to fund school construction and renovation projects.

The SBA board set a meeting last week to approve the proposed changes and deletions and send them to lawmakers, who have the authority to reject, amend or approve the proposed changes and deletions. However, SBA Executive Assistant Tammy Brewer said the agenda for the July 27 meeting was publicly posted July 23, which wasn’t enough time before the meeting to meet state requirements.

Brewer, SBA Executive Director David Roach and SBA Archictetural Services Director Ben Ashley said they believed the board had to vote on the rules by July 27. That was supposedly the deadline for approval for lawmakers to consider the changes in the next regular legislative session, which starts in January.

Jared Wyrick, director of the Legislative Rule-Making Committee, said that committee enforces its deadline pretty strictly but that SBA rules don’t go through that committee. The SBA staff said that, after learning last week the rules instead go through the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, they realized that deadline didn’t apply.

Roach said he didn’t think the misconception that there was an impending deadline meant the quality of the proposals was sacrificed.

“We took the time and did it, you know. We spent a lot of hours,” Roach said. “We feel good about where we are.”

Ashley called the 100 pages targeted for deletion procedural rules. He said the SBA plans to keep some form of them for now while keeping them separate from the agency’s legislative rules.

He said he didn’t know if the retained version of the procedural rules will be the 2008 version or the version in the 2017 Policy and Procedures Handbook document posted on the SBA’s website in cases when those two versions conflict. Considering the 100 pages are included in the legislative rules, changes the SBA has in fact made to them since 2008 without lawmakers’ approval might not have been properly approved.

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