Broward County Public Schools Technical Assistance

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Courtesy of Witt O`Brien`s, LLC.

Background
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school system and the largest fully accredited K-12 and adult school system in the United States. Serving over 258,000 students in Broward County, Florida, BCPS has 232 traditional and 76 charter schools.

Through a contract with the State of Florida, O’Brien’s Response Management Inc. (O’Brien’s) personnel were teamed with the staff of the BCPS Safety Department to perform Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) support functions. O’Brien’s was assigned to assist the Safety Department with writing FEMA project worksheets, time extensions, improved projects, alternate projects, hazard mitigation proposals, appeals, closeouts and financial reconciliation of federal grants. BCPS was pleased with O’Brien’s services, which led to a consulting contract to prepare their disaster debris management plan and provide extended technical assistance with their FEMA grants.

Understanding the Problem
From 2004 to 2008, multiple disasters struck regions of Florida in and around Broward County, including Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, Katrina and Wilma and Tropical Storms Rita and Fay. Not only did BCPS have tremendous physical recovery work to do in the aftermaths, but the school district was also required to complete the long and tedious FEMA PA grant process.

Applicants to the FEMA PA program such as BCPS expend recovery funds at the onset of the disaster with the goal of being compensated to the maximum amount made available through FEMA grant funding and state assistance programs. Inability to efficiently and successfully complete the FEMA grant process could result in delays to potential funding recovery to compensate BCPS for funds already expended in disaster recovery and restoration operations. Furthermore, inadequate documentation or failure to comply with the FEMA grants management program could present the added risk of having to return received funds due to lack of supporting documentation or failure to correctly follow federal policies and procedures.

In order to successfully meet the overall goals of the district, BCPS needed a consultant with:

  • Thorough understanding of BCPS operational systems and assets in order to adequately relate in grant applications the full scope of need.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of state and federal grant opportunities and prior attainment and management success.
  • Specific expertise and experience to navigate numerous FEMA PA program policies and procedures.
  • Proven experience preparing a debris management plan that would be approved by FEMA and become a practical tool to BCPS to address debris operations during a disaster.

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