ABOUT2020-10-02T15:31:00-04:00

WHAT IS THE SMART BOND PROGRAM?

In November 2014, Broward County voters approved an $800 million bond referendum that provides critically needed funding for students and schools. Broward County Public Schools has committed to investing the funding in safety, music, art, athletics, renovations, and technology (SMART) at every school.

The Office of Facilities and Construction is tasked with renovations to schools based on the SMART program needs assessment.

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WHAT IS THE SMART BOND PROGRAM?

In November 2014, Broward County voters approved an $800 million bond referendum that provides critically needed funding for students and schools. Broward County Public Schools has committed to investing the funding in safety, music, art, athletics, renovations, and technology (SMART) at every school.

The Office of Facilities and Construction is tasked with renovations to schools based on the SMART program needs assessment.

IMPROVEMENTS TO SCHOOL FACILITIES INCLUDE:

TECHNOLOGY EQUIPMENT

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

SCHOOL SAFETY SYSTEMS

MUSIC & ATHLETIC EQUIPMENT

BUILDING RENOVATIONS

THE RENOVATION PROCESS

The Primary Renovations initiative of the SMART Program largely focuses on improving schools and the educational experience of students through structural upgrades to campuses and infrastructure. To ensure projects are completed with the utmost efficiency and integrity, each project typically goes through a six-phase process.

Included below is a breakdown of the Primary Renovation process chart with a detailed explanation of each phase.

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PROJECT PLANNING

The Planning phase (Phase 1) is the initiation phase of a project. During this phase, the scope of work is assembled, and a delivery method is chosen based on the complexity and size of the scope. The selected delivery method can be a traditional Design/Bid/Build method, a Construction Management at Risk method, or the use of task order contracts that are currently in place between the District, Professional Service Firms, and Contractors. 

HIRE DESIGNER

The Hire Designer phase (Phase 2) represents the various steps involved in hiring a professional Design team. It begins with the advertising for Requests for Qualification (RFQ) from design firms, then going through the selection process with the Qualification Evaluation Selection Committee (QSEC) and ends with the issuance of an Authorization to Proceed (ATP) with design work.

PROJECT DESIGN

The Design phase (Phase 3) starts after the ATP has been issued. The selected design firm begins by holding a kickoff meeting with the Owner Representative and school administration in order to perform a more detailed scope validation, then moves into the development of drawings and plans needed to hire a contractor and implement the work.

HIRE CONTRACTOR

The Hire Contractor phase (Phase 4) begins by hiring a contractor or vendor and ends with the issuing of a Notice To Proceed (NTP). This process can be completed in various forms and delivery methods, including Invitations To Bid (ITB), Construction Management at Risk (CMAR), or leveraging approved continuing services contracts.

ACTIVE CONSTRUCTION

The Construction phase (Phase 5) begins after the NTP that authorizes the contractor/vendor to start working has been issued. The process includes all aspects required to execute approved scope of work through substantial completion.

CONSTRUCTION CLOSEOUT

The Construction Closeout phase takes places between substantial and final completion, which includes verification that the scope is completed according to approved specifications, final submittals of documents, and in closing out the vendor contract.

PROGRAM LAUNCH

The goals which motivated the passage of the SMART Bond Program in 2014 and remain the driving force behind the work going on across Broward County Public Schools are all about improving the quality of the BCPS educational experience, making a positive impact on the lives of our students and staff, and giving our communities something to be proud of.

The SMART Program was launched after District staff reviewed the conditions of all BCPS schools and discovered up to $3 Billion worth of defferred maintenance needs.

A General Obligation Bond (GOB) was then put forward, consisting of $800 Million worth of the highest priority repairs. The Bond was passed with 74% approval.

Remaining projects from the District Educational Facilities Plan (DEFP) amounting to $184 Million, was then combined with the GOB to create the SMART Program, with $984 Million worth of enhancements to bring to schools all across the district.

The goals which motivated the passage of the SMART Bond Program in 2014 and remain the driving force behind the work going on across Broward County Public Schools are all about improving the quality of the BCPS educational experience, making a positive impact on the lives of our students and staff, and giving our communities something to be proud of.

The SMART Program was launched after District staff reviewed the conditions of all BCPS schools and discovered up to $3 Billion worth of defferred maintenance needs.

A General Obligation Bond (GOB) was then put forward, consisting of $800 Million worth of the highest priority repairs. The Bond was passed with 74% approval.

Remaining projects from the District Educational Facilities Plan (DEFP) amounting to $184 Million, was then combined with the GOB to create the SMART Program, with $984 Million worth of enhancements to bring to schools all across the district.

RECENT WORK

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a General Obligation Bond referendum, and how is it used?2020-02-03T18:44:17-05:00

The Florida Constitution allows a governing body — in this case, the School Board of Broward County, Florida — to go directly to Broward County’s voters with a referendum to obtain approval for a clearly specified reason. A bond referendum is an opportunity for county taxpayers to decide if the District can borrow money through the sale of a bond to finance capital projects for school safety projects, repairs and renovations to facilities and improvements to technology infrastructure. Voters approved the Bond on November 4, 2014.

Why did the District need the Bond and the SMART Program?2020-01-31T18:10:39-05:00

• A: In May 2008, the Florida Legislature reduced the tax on property values that provides capital revenues for school districts to address facility and equipment needs. The property tax rate went from $2 per $1,000 of taxable value to $1.75. In 2009, the Legislature further reduced the tax rate by another 25 cents, to $1.50 per $1,000 of taxable value.
The loss of revenue forced Broward County Public Schools to cut $1.8 billion in capital projects for renovations, new construction and the purchase of equipment for schools and District facilities. Our District has joined other Florida school districts to ask state lawmakers to restore the capital millage. To date, those efforts have been unsuccessful. In response to the Legislature’s actions, the District developed the SMART Program and initiated the Bond referendum to pay for it.

Forty percent of the District’s school buildings are over 25 years old, and the average age is 27 years old. Just as in homes, roofs, air conditioners, electrical systems, and plumbing have a limited life span and are in need of repair or replacement. The SMART Program addresses the following critical areas:

  • Improvements to support student health, safety and
  • Computer devices and technology infrastructure improvements to support student learning, digital-based media environments and 21st century classroom instruction.
  • Facility repair, renovation and replacement to ensure quality schools.
Do we need the SMART Program since the School Board adopted the District Educational Facilities Plan to cover capital improvement projects?2020-02-03T18:43:20-05:00
  • The SMART Program is needed. The District’s current 5-year District Educational Facilities Plan (capital budget) was amended to include SMART Program funding for critical facilities projects and for new equipment to support digital education, music, arts and athletics.
Is Broward County the only school district to seek voter approval for a bond referendum or other revenue-raising initiatives to pay for capital projects?2020-02-03T18:42:57-05:00
  • No. Bond referendums are typically used by school districts to raise revenue for capital improvement projects. Thirty-three (33) other school districts in Florida, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, sought voter approval to use either Operating Millage, a portion of Local Government Infrastructure Sales Surtax or the School Capital Outlay Surtax to pay for needed capital improvement projects.
$800 million is a big number. Will that amount overburden the District?2020-02-03T18:42:29-05:00
  • The District continues to show discipline and success in retiring and reducing debt. Over the past five years, the District has retired $300 million in debt. Relative to the Bond, the District will only issue bonds when projects are ready to be executed. The bonds will be issued in several series over five years.
Will Bond money be used for pay raises or other operating expenses?2020-02-03T18:42:15-05:00
  • Bond funds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs. Bond funds can only be used for capital projects, such as repair and renovations to existing facilities, or for the purchase of equipment, ranging from computer devices and musical instruments to heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.
Will the SMART Program cover all the capital needs in the District?2020-02-03T18:41:54-05:00
  • The Broward County Public Schools used a nationally renowned firm to conduct an independent needs assessment of all schools and facilities, and that study identified approximately $3 billion in capital needs. The Bond raised $800 million, which only covers a portion of the District’s capital projects. The SMART Program is a responsible start that secures funding to address our most critical needs in a way that won’t overburden county taxpayers.
How are SMART Program projects prioritized?2020-02-03T18:41:33-05:00
  • A homeowner in Broward County, whose home is valued at $225,000, will see an average increase in their capital outlay tax of $50.00 per year over the life of the bond.  It is a modest increase, but the tax is still roughly $127.00 less per year than it was in 2007. This means the homeowner will pay approximately 26 percent less in capital outlay taxes than seven years ago. For a condominium owner whose condo is valued at $105,000, the capital outlay tax will increase by $20.00 per year over the life of the bond, which is still approximately $72.00 less per year than it was in 2007, amounting to a 33 percent reduction than seven years ago.
What about tenants? Does the Bond impact rents?2020-02-03T18:41:15-05:00
  • No. Not directly. It’s the property owner who gets the tax bill and is obligated to pay it. However, property owners include tax payments along with other expenses in calculating how much rent to charge their tenants.
Where is the oversight to ensure the money is spent properly?2020-02-03T18:44:51-05:00
  • In 2015, the District created the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC), an independent panel that reviews and reports on all SMART Program related expenditures. The purpose of the BOC is to build trust with our community and ensure accountability, integrity and transparency throughout the SMART Program   BOC meetings are open to the public. For further information, please visit  http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/ospa/smart-calendar/.
Voters approved the Bond in 2014. Where are we now?2020-02-03T18:40:44-05:00

The SMART Program began during the Summer of 2015 after the Bond was validated by the State Attorney’s Office, and the District hired a team of consultants to help implement the capital improvement program. The Bond Oversight Committee was also created to monitor program expenditures.

There has been significant progress since then. As of May 31, 2017, a total of 947 facilities projects are in various phases of the SMART process, representing an investment of $670 million. The Technology component of the SMART Program is nearly complete, as are several smaller facilities projects.

So, we’ll see improvements from the SMART Program right away?2020-02-03T18:40:27-05:00

Yes and No. The SMART Program is a five-to-seven-year capital improvement program that is more like a marathon than a sprint, particularly in the repair or replacement of aging roofs, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and fire sprinklers. Some components of the SMART Program, like Technology, several School Choice Enhancement Program projects and Single Point of Entry (SPE) security projects are complete. Several key Facilities projects have moved into the implementation phase, while others are still in the design phase. The good news is that all projects, no matter their start dates, are scheduled to be completed within the SMART Program’s five-to-seven-year time-period.

What are ‘facilities projects’ and ‘phases’?2020-02-03T18:40:12-05:00

Facilities projects involve repair, replacement and renovations to structures and their various components. This includes work on building exteriors, electrical systems, fire alarms and fire sprinklers, heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, plumbing, walls and windows.

A majority of these projects go through a six-phase process, beginning with initial planning by the District’s Office of Facilities and Construction (OF&C). Phase 2 involves advertising and hiring architects or engineers to design the project. In Phase 3, the design professionals draw up plans for the contractors or vendors who are hired in Phase 4. The actual work starts Phase 5 and once that is completed, the project undergoes quality assurance inspections in the final Phase 6.

Other projects may undergo an alternative process aimed at expediting the work, such as bringing contractors and the design team together in a collaborative effort to complete the project.

Will each school receive a portion of the bond money?2020-02-03T18:39:43-05:00

Yes. Every school will receive $100,000 under the SMART’s School Choice Enhancement Program (SCEP). The funding allows each school to decide on how to best use the funding to improve educational and instructional spaces. Participating schools have used SCEP to renovate playgrounds, add needed furniture and install new monitors, speakers and outdoor marquees.

How does the SMART Program benefit Music, Art and Athletics?2020-02-03T18:39:21-05:00

The SMART Program includes funding for Art, Music and Athletic facilities.

Athletic improvements include the renovation of racing tracks at several schools throughout the District, and the School District has recently selected vendors to start work on upgrading weight rooms in high school gyms.

Music programs have also benefited from a School Board decision to accelerate funding for new instruments and related equipment. Schools are now seeing their musical needs being met earlier than originally planned.

Thanks to the Board’s decision to move Bond funding to the District’s capital budget, District staff can now upgrade and replace music, art and athletic equipment for schools that have programmatic needs. Examples include:

• Replacement of music equipment
• Sound and acoustic treatments
• Studio/audio enhancements
• Theater lighting
• Music/art cabinets and secure storage
• Kiln replacement
• Athletic equipment

How does the SMART Program address technology needs?2020-02-03T18:39:03-05:00

The District, like many others across the country, is adjusting to a changing learning environment as more and more instructional materials move from print to digital formats. To keep up, the SMART Program has set aside $80 million in funding for Technology to improve wireless access points and network equipment, purchase approximately 83,362 new computer devices and train teachers to use new computer technology for their students. 

Is the District issuing long-term debt to pay for SMART Technology?2020-02-03T18:38:42-05:00

No. The debt is structured so that the bonds issued for technology will be repaid over the useful life of the computer devices, which is between three to five years.

How does the SMART Program address school security needs?2020-02-03T18:38:28-05:00

Single Point of Entry projects (SPEs) involve the repairs or installation of a school’s primary access and typically consist of improvements to fencing and gates to secure campuses during normal school hours. SPE projects that were scheduled to start in the latter years of the SMART Program were moved into the current year for more timely construction and completion.

What is the District doing to cover itself against inflationary costs since the life of most capital improvement projects run for an extended period of time?2020-02-03T18:38:08-05:00

Assessments are done to evaluate risks that could impact the value of a project, and they are fairly common tools in long-term construction projects. The District hired Atkins to provide annual risk assessments — the financial analysis and budgetary oversight — of all SMART Program projects.

The District also has set aside five percent of the Bond money to help mitigate and manage risks due to inflation as the SMART Program progresses. District officials arrived at that figure after a 2016 market study found that a spike in local construction had increased the rate for construction by 5 percent.

How is information concerning the status of SMART Program projects being disseminated to the public?2020-02-03T18:37:43-05:00

There are several ways the public can find the status of SMART Program projects. The public can review Capital Program Facility Reports, which includes information about ongoing projects at any school. To view these reports, please visit: http://browardschools.com/Web/Smart-Needs.

• The District also provides regularly updates on the SMART Program to city officials, business groups and community organizations.

• The public can receive further information from the monthly SMART Update, which can be found on the District’s website at http://browardschools.com/smartfutures

• Parents can also learn about the scope and status of projects through Project Charter Meetings (PCMs), which are informational sessions held at the schools in which District officials, the project management team and architects meet with parents, school volunteers and city representative to discuss ongoing projects and address any concerns. PCMs allow the project managers to outline the objectives and timetables, while managing expectations and providing clarity on related concerns. These sessions are crucial to the SMART Program, and they are held to make sure the community is well informed.

SMART Program projects sound like a great opportunities for entrepreneurs. Will small local businesses have a preference in securing contracts for work?2020-02-03T18:37:30-05:00

Yes. The District has modified its procurement policies to bring more local small businesses into the SMART Program as contractors and vendors. School District contracts are vehicles that stimulate job growth and boost the local economy.

The District is committed to promoting and developing business relationships with small, minority-owned, women-owned, and locally owned businesses and encourages their participation in the procurement process.

Why should Broward County citizens, who don’t have children in the school system be concerned about what is happening in the schools?2020-02-03T18:37:26-05:00

Strong public education is the foundation of our country. Excellent schools support a vibrant community and economy, and ensure a well-educated and highly skilled workforce that attracts and retains businesses.

School facility renovations generate jobs and grow our local tax base. When schools are improved, this adds value and benefits the community as a whole.

KEEP UP WITH SMART

KEEP UP WITH SMART

Stay updated on the enhancements coming to your school and others all across Broward County by following BCPS SMART Futures on all your favorite social media platforms.

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