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​School Construction Reimbursement Criteria

24 P.S. §7-733 - Amended for Act 70

Date of Issue: March 31, 2020
Previous reviews:  July 1, 2018, February 10, 2009, July 1, 2006, July 1, 2002, July 1, 1998


The purpose of this Basic Education Circular is to clarify existing policies governing re­quests for school construction reimbursement.

  1. School districts must develop a District-Wide Facility Study.  This Study must be completed and accepted by the School Board prior to, and within five years of the date of the Department's receipt of the Board acted PlanCon Part 1, Project Justification, submission. This Study must include all required content items as further described in the PlanCon Part 1 instructions.  The PlanCon project must be an option that was considered and evaluated in this Study.

  2. A condition of reimbursement eligibility is that the entire facility (building and site) be   brought up to prevailing educational standards and reasonably current construction standards.  The standards applicable to a project will be determined by the School Board however, at a minimum, they must comply with applicable Federal, State, and Local codes and requirements.

  3. School districts should evaluate their early childhood infrastructure when considering the renovation, expansion, or new construction of an elementary school.  For elementary school projects, school districts should consider providing suitable space for pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten, and Pre K-3 classes with no more than 17 students per teacher.

  4. Projects that adopt high-performance building standards are eligible for a 10% subsidy enhancement.  High-performance building standards include the United States Green Building Council's silver, gold, or platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system or, two, three, or four Globes under the Green Globes Green Building Rating System).  Other high-performance building standards may be considered if such standards meet or exceed those above.

    LEAs that complete a Building Condition Assessment will receive a 2% subsidy enhancement at each project building.  The Building Condition Assessment parameters are determined by the Department of Education and exceed the parameters already required via the District-wide Facilities Study.

  5. School districts are encouraged to consider building reuse (renovation or expansion) rather than total demolition or new building construction.  In addition, school construction projects should be planned in the context of sustainable community development. 

  6. School districts should take all reasonable efforts to preserve and protect school buildings that are on or are eligible for local or National historic registers.  If for safety, educational, economic, or other reasons, it is not feasible to renovate an existing school building, school districts are encouraged to develop an adaptive reuse plan for the building that incorporates an historic easement or covenant to avoid the building's abandonment or demolition.

  7. For projects that involve the renovation of structures of more than one story which have wood framing (interior or exterior framing that is wholly or partially of wood), the school district must describe where required in the PlanCon Part 1 Project Justification, submission how this construction project will address pertinent health and safety standards. 

  8. The Commonwealth will not reimburse alteration or renovation costs for any building which is less than 20 years old, or for which a reimbursable project has been approved within the preceding 20 years, unless a request for a variance is approved by the Department.  The request for a variance from this requirement must be presented in writing as a School Board resolution and must state the need for such unusual treatment.  For all buildings, the time elapsed for this purpose shall be based on the period from the bid opening date of the last reimbursable project to the bid opening date of the planned project.

  9. The Commonwealth will not reimburse costs for alterations or renovations to an existing school building (excluding costs specified in the PlanCon instructions) if said costs are less than twenty percent (20%) of the replacement value of the entire building unless a request for a variance is approved by the Department.

    The request for a variance from this requirement must be presented in writing as a School Board resolution and must state the need for such unusual treatment.  The replacement value will be computed by multiplying the full-time equivalent (FTE) capacity of an existing facility by 92 square feet for elementary buildings and 123 square feet for secondary buildings multiplied by the cost of new construction, such cost to be determined annually by the Department.


Purdon's Statutes

24 P.S. §7-733
24 P.S. §25-2574
24 P.S. §25-2579

State Board of Education Regulations

22 Pa. Code, C​hapter 349

Bureau/Office Contact

Division of School Facilities
Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Forum Building
607 South Drive
Harrisburg, PA  17120​
Phone: (717) 787-5993