Advisory group urges more state infusions for school construction
‘PlanCon’ Committee also calls for more cost-effective, energy-efficient projects
HARRISBURG, May 23 – Subsidizing public school building maintenance to maximize taxpayer investments is among the recommendations in a report released today by the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee, said state Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny. Markosek, a member of the PlanCon committee and Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s confident the recommendations will yield a more efficient, more cost-effective blueprint for the state’s subsidy of public school construction and renovation projects.
View the report here.
“The committee conducted extensive interviews around the state, gathering input from school officials, parents, board members, architects, contractors and energy specialists,” Markosek said.
He added that meetings such as the one held at Plum Borough School District’s O’Block Jr. High School provided critical information that helped inform the committee’s final recommendations.
The recommendations pertaining to building maintenance are especially important, according to state Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee and also a PlanCon member.
"I'm especially pleased that, for the first time, the committee is recommending that 20 percent of any PlanCon funds be put aside for maintenance efforts, which is timely in light of the disturbing Philadelphia Inquirer series about city schools,” Roebuck said. “I strongly support that recommendation."
The report also recommends preserving incentives for high-performance buildings. Projects that meet LEED or Green Globes standards will receive a 10 percent incentive. Building to high-performance standards can save taxpayer dollars by reducing a school’s operating costs for energy bills.
State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, advocated to keep the high-performance building standards in PlanCon after compelling testimony during a PlanCon hearing she hosted at Coeburn Elementary School in Brookhaven.
“Students and taxpayers deserve well-designed energy-efficient public buildings with good indoor air quality,” said Krueger-Braneky. “I am grateful that the committee was able to preserve this important program and will continue to advocate for more efficient building design in the future.”
Markosek noted that in addition to maintenance and energy efficiency, the report recommends that 5 percent in funds be set aside for safety-related school building design features, such as vestibules requiring electronic access and the elimination of “dead corners” leaving blind spots in school corridors.
Other recommendations include simplifying and streamlining the school district application process and updating the existing, antiquated reimbursement formula using factors that are more relevant to today’s educational environment.