Improving Transparency in State Government
At DAS, transparency is a top priority. Specifically, it is crucial that our agency provide Connecticut residents with information about the services we are providing using taxpayer dollars. For this reason, DAS proposed several statutory changes last year relating to the Office of School Contruction Grants & Review to increase the amount of information we are required to share annually with the Governor, the Legislature, and the public at large.
Every year on December 15th, DAS is required to submit a copy of what is called the “Priority List” to the Governor and the Legislature. The Priority List is a list of major school construction projects, where the districts have requested state grants from DAS. During the year, DAS also works on smaller projects that are administratively awarded by our agency on a monthly basis. Although these projects do not require legislative approval like the Priority List projects, they are still significant for schools and are funded utilizing taxpayer dollars. For this reason, one statutory change that DAS proposed last year was a requirement that we annually provide a listing of these Non-Priority List projects to the Governor and Legislature at the same time that the Priority List is transmitted. This additional information will provide policymakers with some additional context around the grants being provided by the state to school districts and will help better inform their decision-making on the important topic of how to best support our children and school personnel.
A copy of this year’s Priority List and Non-Priority List can be found here. This list will be reviewed and then voted on by the Connecticut General Assembly during the 2023 legislative session.
In addition to sharing information about the Non-Priority List, DAS also proposed legislation to return central administration projects to the Priority List. Central Administration projects can be large and costly, and therefore it is appropriate for the Legislature to approve them, rather than for DAS to process those grants administratively.
The last notable school construction legislative change from last session that we wanted to celebrate is the creation of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and indoor air quality grant program. This is a new grant program (I.e. separate from the Priority List) and is the first time that a dedicated pot of funding has been set aside for the specific purpose of improving air in schools. You can learn more about this innovative new program on our website here.
It is exciting to see what the future of school construction looks like in our state. Modern, well-constructed, healthy schools will produce a new generation of well-educated students ready to take on the new challenges of our changing world. DAS is proud to play a role in this achievement.