Recipients of a grant under the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program (OSCIM Program) must enter into a Grant Agreement with the State of Oregon. The Agreement includes several items that directly relate to the construction contracting process.

First, the Agreement requires the recipient of a grant to complete its construction project in “accordance with the Project plans, specifications and budget and, if applicable, to contract with competent, properly licensed and bonded contractors and professionals in accordance with the Oregon Public Contracting Code and all other applicable federal, state and local laws regulating projects of the same type and purpose.” This is pretty straightforward.

The Agreement also has a requirement that relates specifically to the plans and specifications: “If applicable, Grantee agrees to have plans and specifications for the Project prepared by a licensed architect or licensed engineer and to require that the Project meets applicable standards of survival in good condition.” That also is pretty straightforward; any plans and specifications should be prepared by licensed professionals and should be capable of withstanding naturally occurring events such as earthquakes.

The Agreement requires the general contractor to have a performance and payment bond in place until one year after the completion of construction “for the faithful performance and payment of all of the contractor’s obligations for the total cost of the Project.” This bonding requirement should be incorporated into the construction documents up front.

The recipient itself is required to “operate and maintain the Project in good repair and operating condition so as to preserve the public education benefits of the Project, including making all necessary and proper repairs, replacements, additions, and improvements.”

Finally, the Agreement requires lengthy record-keeping. Under the Agreement, the recipient is to keep all “books, documents, papers, and records that are directly related” to the grant and the project until three years after the bonds have matured or been retired.

Application forms, deadlines and additional information about the OSCIM Program, including a draft copy of the grant Agreement, can be found here. Michael Elliott, School Finance and School Facilities Program Analyst, is also available to answer questions about the OSCIM Program requirements.

School districts across Oregon have access to several types of state-funded grants. Two of these grant programs are administered by the Office of School Facilities (created by the Oregon Legislature in 2015): the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program (OSCIM Program), and the Technical Assistance Program (TAP).

The OSCIM Program is the largest grant program for school construction and repairs. The OSCIM grants are “matching” grants intended to incentivize local voters to vote for school construction general obligation bonds. The funding for this program is split into two different funds. The first fund contains 60% of the money and is awarded to districts that have passed a bond, based on the Priority List established by the Office of School Facilities. The second fund contains 40% of the money and is awarded to districts that pass a local bond, based on a First in Time program.

Essentially, the OSCIM Program funds will match a local district’s local bond one-to-one up to $4 million, or the amount approved in the bond, whichever is less. After the $4 million, the Program may match a district’s local bond between $4 million and $8 million depending on the funding formula.

Since its inception, the OSCIM Program has awarded $125 million in grants. According to Michael Elliott, the School Facilities Coordinator, the OSCIM program “is providing safe and healthy schools to all of Oregon’s children by matching state dollars with local funds.” This year, Mr. Elliott reports that legislature has approved another $100 million in grant money spread out over the next two years. Twenty-five million dollars is available for each of the election cycles of November 2017, May 2018, November 2018, and May 2019.

In addition to the OSCIM Program, the Office of School Facilities manages the TAP. There are three types of grants under this program: (1) a facilities assessment grant, with a maximum award of $20,000; (2) a long-range facility plan grant with a maximum award of $25,000; and (3) a seismic assessment grant with a maximum award of $25,000.

Application forms, deadlines and additional information can be found at the Office of School Facilities link through the Department of Education’s website. Michael Elliott is also available to answer questions about these programs.

A third grant program also provides money for school construction and repairs. This is the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program (SRGP). This program is available through Business Oregon, an Oregon state agency. The SRGP is a competitive grant program that funds seismic rehabilitation. It is available to public K-12 school districts, community colleges, and education service districts.

The grants can be used to pay for improvements to existing structures, for architecture and engineering, and for project management. However, the grants cannot be used for buildings in a Tsunami Inundation Zone or for solely “non-structural” projects.

More information on the seismic rehabilitation grants can be found on the Business Oregon website. For those interested in applying for these grants now, there is training in Salem on September 14.