School boards proposing or going through major construction projects discuss and vote on the various stages of a process called “PlanCon.”
School construction projects costing less than $15,000 are not subject to the PlanCon process, but some of them may require reporting to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure compliance with regulations.
School districts can get reimbursement from the state for all or part of a new school building or for major changes to existing buildings. Complex formulas determine the amount of reimbursement the state will pay, but in general, reimbursement is available when construction results in a building which is up to current educational standards and its capacity can be justified by present or projected student enrollment.
PlanCon, an acronym for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement. PlanCon stages are lettered A through K. The forms have to be submitted to PDE in sequential order, but the district can work on some stages of the PlanCon process simultaneously.
The time it takes to get through the whole process varies, but typically it can take nine to 12 months to get to PlanCon G, when construction bids are awarded.
Act 34, a 1973 law, requires a public hearing on all new school construction and substantial additions to existing buildings. “Substantial” additions increase an existing structure by at least 20 percent.
A second Act 34 hearing is required if construction bids exceed estimated costs by eight percent or more.
A different PlanCon procedure applies to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
For more information: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/reimbursable_projects/7463#TIME