Answers to FAQs
Q: What types of school construction projects are eligible for reimbursement from the Commonwealth?
A: The Commonwealth provides reimbursement for school districts for the construction of new schools, additions to existing schools, and/or renovations or alterations to existing schools to meet current educational and construction standards. A condition of reimbursement is to bring the entire building up to current educational standards and reasonably current construction standards.
Q: Can work on maintenance buildings, bus garages, athletic stadiums or other non-instructional facilities qualify for school construction reimbursement?
A: No. Only work on schools and district administration offices may qualify for state funding.
Q: There are many different terms used in referring to work on an existing building. Is reimbursement different for a building that is "altered," "renovated," "reconstructed," or "modernized?"
A: No. The Department makes no distinction.
Q: Who determines "current standards"?
A: The local board of directors determines "current standards" in light of code requirements (federal, state and local) and the district's educational program.
Q: What other factors are used to determine eligibility for funding for a renovation or alteration project besides the board's determination to bring the existing building up to current standards?
A: The determination of whether a renovation or alteration project is reimbursable is based on a mathematical calculation of replacement value, as per Basic Education Circular (BEC) 24 P.S. § 7-733.
Q: What type of project receives greater reimbursement from the State - renovations or new construction?
A: The Commonwealth provides the same level of base reimbursement for renovations or alterations as for new buildings. Based on the provisions of Act 46 of 2005, additional funding is available for certain types of projects. However, because renovations or alterations to an existing building are usually less expensive than new construction, the proportion of reimbursement generally is still usually greater for work on existing buildings than for new buildings.
Q: Under what circumstances may the Department disapprove a school construction project?
A: State regulations require the Department of Education to approve projects so long as they comply with applicable laws, regulations and standards.
Q: How does a school district apply for school construction reimbursement?
A: PlanCon, an acronym for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for Commonwealth reimbursement. The forms are designed to: (1) document a local school district's planning process; (2) provide justification for a project to the public; (3) ascertain compliance with state laws, regulations and standards; and (4) establish the level of state participation in the cost of the project.
Q: Must a school district work through only one part of the Plancon process at a time?
A: No. Districts may work on different parts simultaneously. However, the PlanCon parts must be approved by the local school board and submitted in sequential order for all second, third and fourth class districts unless indicated otherwise in the PlanCon General Instructions (PDF).
Q: When does reimbursement start for a project?
A: Reimbursement starts after the project has been bid, and the bids and project financing have been approved by the Department.