Pushing The SBA Toward Its “Drop-Dead Date”

MARK MANCHIN AND WV SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY IN TROUBLE USING SBA MONEY

Today the Charleston Daily Mail reports again on another April SBA grant in controversy:

[SBA Director Mark Manchin] said Kanawha [Board of Education] is close to obtaining property for [a new SBA grant] school with just more than two weeks left before the deadline [of November 1st stipulated by the SBA]. … The building authority granted the money to the district in April, but said the award would be withdrawn if the county hadn’t lined up property for the new school by Nov. 1. … Manchin said the school system didn’t have to own the property by that deadline, he just “needed to see some movement” from the county by then. “That’s not the drop-dead date, if you will,” he said. … Manchin said the School Building Authority had to impose deadlines on the funding because it came from federal stimulus money, which also came with strict deadlines for the authority. Kanawha school officials would not disclose the location of the new property Tuesday.

Sound familiar? Mon Schools kept its SBA grant green school site secret until mid-March, too late for the WV Division of Highways to incorporate into its plans for the DoH public hearing in April about the 705/119 Mileground road expansion.

Mononogalia County BoE still does not have title to the land for the green school, which remains dependent upon a November 12 WVU Board of Governors meeting vote.

By SBA grant contract, Mon Schools was to complete Phase 2 (Schematic Design) of the grant by November 19 but Mon Schools cannot legally even begin the Schematic Design Phase until it owns “clear and free title” to the land for the school, which, even if the archeological and environmental surveys are completed by then, Mon Schools could scarcely acquire title to the land to begin the Schematic Design Phase by November 19 the day the SBA contract phase was to end, under daily financial penalty for any missed deadline.

But the SBA indicates that it is willing to ignore the stipulations in its own contract, making exceptions to every rule it wishes, and furthermore awarding the grant in blatant violation of WV Department of Education Policy 6200, which prohibits siting news schools near, let alone “at,” hazards such as arterial highways, high traffic, and congestion, let alone at an intersection of two such highways.

It would be good to know what the “federal stimulus money…strict deadlines” for these SBA grants consist of.

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