January 5, 2024
California Receives $4.99 Million in Federal Grant Funds to Improve School Facilities in Small School Districts
SACRAMENTO—On Thursday, January 4, the United States Department of Education announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) is among the recipients of the Supporting America’s School Infrastructure (SASI) Grant Program. Through a SASI Grant, CDE will receive $4.99 million toward improving school facilities in small school districts across California.
“I am pleased that we have been able to secure this federal support for our rural districts. We know how important school facilities are in providing a safe and healthy environment for our students. We must make sure that safe, healthy, and up-to-date school facilities are available to children in every community,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Every student should be learning in an optimal environment that supports them to be healthy, safe, engaged, and challenged.”
In California, over half of all school districts are classified as small school districts, with enrollment counts fewer than 2,500 students. Small school districts face greater challenges as they work to maintain and upgrade school facilities, as they often have fewer staff devoted to facilities and maintenance and may lack the school facilities funding expertise compared to larger districts.
The $4.99 million in federal SASI funds that California applied for and was awarded will be invested in the infrastructure of small and rural districts through several programs that will aid these districts in supporting their facility needs. One is a direct technical assistance program, which will allow school facility professionals to visit districts to assess facility needs, estimate costs, identify funding options, and coordinate the development of various facility contracts that include architect, Inspector of Record, and construction, all free of charge to the district. This program can also train and support a district’s custodial/maintenance staff, principal/superintendent and chief business officials on the cycle of facilities maintenance and capital outlay.
The SASI grant funds will allow the CDE to develop a network of facility practitioners to support small and rural districts, along with a centralized online resource in the form of a portal or web page for school facilities staff to address maintenance assessment, state and national funding sources, and contract development and management. This online resource would also include standardized forms and tools for district use, along with an on-demand library of resources including webinars and short videos.
In addition, the grant will increase the capacity for districts to have access to state level expertise on facility maintenance. The CDE will fund a statewide School Facilities Maintenance Specialist. This position will serve as a liaison with county offices of education to further advance the work of maintaining school sites and support small school districts.
All of this comes as Superintendent Thurmond supports AB 247 (Muratsuchi), a $14 billion bond measure for school construction projects anticipated to be on the ballot later this year. For more information on the Supporting America’s School Infrastructure (SASI) Grant program, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website .
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100