Location:
SCHOOLS - CONSTRUCTION;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report


February 15, 2011

 

2011-R-0073

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION SPACE REQUIREMENTS

By: John Moran, Principal Analyst

You asked for background information and an explanation of space requirements for school construction projects.

SUMMARY

Among the limitations on how much state funding is awarded to a local school construction project is the maximum allowable square footage per pupil in a proposed facility. The square footage is related to projected enrollment and the number of grades the school will serve.

There are some variations and exceptions to the regular space standards. For school expansion or extension projects involving a school building constructed before 1950, the space standard is increased by 25% for any pre-1950 building that remains part of the new project when it is completed. Also, certain aspects of projects, such as corrections for code or health violations, are not subject to the square footage reimbursement limitation.

A project that exceeds the maximum allowable square footage may still go forward, but the school district will receive a lower state reimbursement based on how much the project exceeds the maximum for the number of students it serves.

SPACE STANDARDS AND PROJECT REIMBURSEMENT GRANTS

School construction grants are based on eligible project costs, which are limited by state standards and criteria. Towns are reimbursed for from 20% to 80% of those costs, depending on town wealth (CGS 10-283). So for example, if a town's reimbursement rate is 50% and the entire project has a total eligible cost of $50 million, the town will receive a $25 million state reimbursement.

For grant purposes, the state sets a maximum allowable square footage per pupil for a facility. The maximum is based upon the projected enrollment for the project; grades housed in the school; and the amount of square footage, if any, constructed prior to 1950 (Conn. Agencies Reg. 10-287c-15(a)).

To calculate the reimbursement, the grade range and projected enrollment for a project are applied to Table 1 below to calculate a maximum allowable square footage per pupil.

Table 1: State Space Specifications for Reimbursement Purposes

Projected Enrollment

Grades

Pre-K

and K

1 to 4

5 to 6

7 to 9

10 to 12

Maximum Allowable Square Footage per Pupil

0-350

124

124

156

180

194

351-750

120

120

152

176

190

751-1500

116

116

148

170

184

Over 1500

112

112

142

164

178

The maximum allowable square footage per pupil is then compared to the actual per-pupil square footage. If the resulting ratio is less than one, the building is considered to be oversized for grant computation purposes. Therefore, the ratio is applied to all project costs, except site and building purchase costs, and the reimbursement is corresponding reduced.

For school expansion or extension projects involving a school building constructed before 1950, the space standard is increased by 25% for any pre-1950 building that remains part of the new project when it is completed. This means if a project has considerable square footage built before 1950, the standard is more generous so, within limits, a larger project could be fully reimbursable. SDE's webpage provides worksheets with a range of examples covering instances where there is no part of the project including pre-1950 building footage and other examples where there is pre-1950 footage (see link below).

Space standards to not apply to projects solely for correction of code or health violations, roof replacements, vocational agriculture equipment projects, board of education central administration projects, and projects solely for purchase of a building if there is not alteration, extension, or renovation component to the project.

LINKS

SDE's webpage under “School Construction Grant Process” provides worksheets with a range of examples covering instances where there is no part of the project including pre-1950 building footage and other examples where there is pre-1950 footage (see: www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2636&q=320550 then click on “Ineligible and Limited Eligible Costs”). SDE's main web page: www.sde.ct.gov.

JM:ro