- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) - The executive director of the Arizona School Facilities Board has resigned after a bill was introduced in the state Legislature to eliminate the agency and transfer responsibilities to the state Department of Administration.

Paul Bakalis’ resignation was first reported by political newsletter Yellow Sheet and confirmed by the office of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, The Arizona Republic reported Friday.

Bakalis led the state agency charged with funding more than $100 million each year in repairs to aging district school buildings and constructing new schools, officials said.

Republican Rep. Michelle Udall introduced the bill after receiving complaints from schools about agency delays and a scathing audit released in June.

“The week before session started a lot of these issues came up,” she said. “A lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle were saying, ‘Why would we put more money in a system that is really broken?’”

The state auditor general’s office released a report in June saying more than 100 facility repairs took longer than a year to complete potentially posing a safety and health risk to students.

The audit also found that the board had an unclear procurement policy and undisclosed conflicts of interest by a majority of board members.

The proposed bill would eliminate the agency, but keep the grant program for larger expenses, officials said. The bill would also create a funding formula by student to give schools money directly for smaller repairs.

“The idea is to make sure schools are getting money for the facilities, making sure that it’s not being wasted,” Udall said of the draft bill.

Department of Administration Director Andy Tobin was appointed interim director of the school facilities board in addition to his department responsibilities.

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