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Dinniman, Committee Approve Recommendations to Modernize Pa. School Construction Process, Improve Student Safety
HARRISBURG (May 23, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman and members of the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCon) Advisory Committee today unanimously approved recommendations to overhaul the way Pennsylvania funds school building projects.
The recommendations, which come after two years of review, hearings, and an extensive analysis of the current system, aim to streamline, update, and modernize its lengthy processes, which date back to the 1970s.
<<Read the PlanCon Advisory Committee Final Recommendations and Report here>>
Jay Himes, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, in past testimony to the committee said, “We believe PlanCon in its present state is a severely flawed program. It uses outdated data that nobody really knows the origin of anymore. Largely, that data seems to be irrelevant in terms of calculations to both construction and the reimbursement to schools.”
The committee’s recommendations included paring down the existing 11-step PlanCon process, implementing a web-based application and data collection system (currently, project plans, drawings, and related documents must be submitted on microfilm), recognizing LEED and other high-performance building standards, and developing a small project grant program for roofing, HVAC, plumbing, emergency, energy savings and other projects to improve environmental health.
Dinniman, who serves as Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee and is also Vice President of Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority, specifically highlighted recommendations to earmark funding for school safety projects.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions in both the Senate and the House recently about how we can improve the design and construction of our schools to better enhance student safety,” Dinniman said. “I thank the committee for including these funds in the recommendations and hope that this is a step we can continue to build on when designing, improving, and renovating public schools.”
The recommendations call for setting aside 5 percent of monies appropriated for the new building reimbursement program to be dedicated to school safety projects.
The recommendations are now expected to be written into legislation.