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Charter Schools

Construction of a Facility

A charter school may construct a school facility within the limitations described below.

  1. Use of funds. A charter school may construct a facility with state or local funds. Charter schools, however, are not eligible for reimbursement from the Commonwealth on construction projects.
  2. Nature of facility. A charter school must limit construction work to its school facilities and may not include non-school facilities in a construction project.
  3. Health and Safety. 24 P.S. 17-1722-A(b) requires a charter school to comply with facility laws and regulations that pertain to the health or safety of pupils.

Renovation of a Facility

A charter school may renovate owned facilities. 24 P.S. 17-1722-A(b) requires a charter school to comply with facility laws and regulations that pertain to the health or safety of pupils. 

Charter School Construction Projects

Information on the requirements applicable to charter school construction projects can be found on the following webpages:

Basic Education Circular 24 P.S. §17-1701-A, Charter Schools

Lease of a Facility

A charter school may lease property from public or private entities. In the event that a facility is being constructed or renovated in order to lease it to the charter school, however, that construction or renovation may be subject to certain restrictions.

Pursuant to 24 P.S. §17-1715-A(1)), charter schools and their contractors are subject to certain statutes governing construction-related work. See Facilities (PDF) attachment. Charter schools are advised to contact the Department of Education, Division of Budget and School Facilities, other state agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor and Industry, Transportation and Environmental Protection, and local municipalities with jurisdiction over school construction prior to undertaking any projects to ensure their compliance with law and regulation. In addition, 24 P.S. 17-1722-A(b) requires a charter school to comply with facility laws and regulations that pertain to the health or safety of pupils. To insure that charter schools have taken into account the health and safety of students and staff when planning construction projects, a charter school is required to submit form PDE-397 to the Division of Budget and School Facilities, Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Section 2574.3 of the Public School Code of 1949, as amended, provides reimbursement for leases of buildings or portions of buildings for charter school use, which have been approved by the Secretary of Education on or after July 1, 2001. The approved reimbursable annual rental for approved leases of buildings or portions of buildings for charter school use is the lesser of (i) the annual rental payable under the provisions of the approved lease agreement, or (ii) the product of the charter school facility's enrollment times a legislated dollar amount based on the type of school. The subsidy paid equals the approved reimbursable annual rental multiplied by the aid ratio for a charter school. Further guidance on the charter school facility lease program is available from the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management, Division of Budget and School Facilities, which is responsible for administering this program.

Facility Lease Forms and Instructions

The applications used by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in fiscal year 2015-2016 to process and approve charter school facility leases will be available in May. Please note that the files cannot be used to input data.

Applications must be submitted on standard paper. The Division of School Facilities will not accept completed applications submitted electronically.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a charter school receive state reimbursement for leasing a building? State reimbursement is limited to leased building(s) used for educational use.  If a leased building includes space for both educational and administrative use, the lease costs on that building may qualify for reimbursement.  However, if the central administrative staff is housed in a separate facility, the lease costs for that facility do not qualify for reimbursement under the program.  

Can a cyber charter school receive state reimbursement for the leasing of a building? No.  

Can charter schools receive state reimbursement for leasing relocatable structures, trailers or modularized structures? The structure is only eligible for state reimbursement if it meets the conditions of "permanent" construction as specified in Attachment B of the "Charter School Lease Reimbursement Program" instructions.