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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has approved a number of emergency support measures to provide education funding.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. This emergency funding is a relief package intended to provide school districts with additional funding to provide support and services for K-12 education.

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Capital Expenses

Capital Expenditures Guidance

Recipients of federal funds must get prior written approval before spending funds on capital expenditures. (2 CFR § 200.439(b)(1)). Capital expenditures include the funds an entity spends to buy, maintain, or improve its fixed assets, such as buildings, vehicles, equipment, or land.

Please note:

  • The standard threshold for getting prior approval is $5,000. Capital expenditures exceeding $5,000 must be justified as COVID-related and receive written prior approval.
  • Considerations regarding
    • Procurement – 2 CFR § 200.317-327
    • Construction – 34 CFR § 75.600-617
    • Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rules – 20 U.S. Code § 1232b
    • Uniform Grant Guidance Rules – 2 CFR § 200.310-316
      • Prior approval rules – 2 CFR § 200.439
      • Rules on real property – 2 CFR § 200.311
      • Rules on financing costs – 2 CFR § 200.449
    • EDGAR construction rules – 34 CFR § 76.660, 34 CFR §§ 75.600-75.617
    • Construction projects are also subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The NDDPI revised the form to obtain approval on capital expenses funded with ESSER dollars. 
  • Districts will also need to submit SFN 52304 (School Construction Approval Request) for any requests in excess of $150,000 to Adam Tescher.
  • The form can be submitted to Lisa Johnson.
  • This new process is effective March 4, 2021.

Information on Construction Designs:

School districts requesting to use ESSER funding for construction must request prior approval by submitting the “Capital Expenses – Prior Approval” form. Before construction is advertised or placed on the market for bidding, the grantee shall get approval of the final working drawings and specifications using the guide below:

Final Working Drawings:

Architectural and engineering drawings which consist of acceptable reproducibles. These drawings provide information about various aspects of the construction of the building including architectural (floor plans, interior and exterior elevations, and sections), ornamental, structural, mechanical, electrical, and air-conditional details, as well as site and landscaping plans. This is probably the most important class of records since they provide not only detailed instructions for the erection of the building but also present a comprehensive and detailed picture of its design.

Project Specifications:

Guides for individual construction projects which outline material requirements and explain the materials and manufactured items depicted or related drawings.

Questions on this requirement can be directed to Jamie Mertz, Department of Public Instruction Fiscal Director, at (701) 328-2176.