Pennsylvania’s Public School Facility Improvement Grant Program: What You Need to Know

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According to a Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) State of Education report, 71.4% of survey respondents indicated that one or more of their buildings need major repair or replacement. In the PSBA report, the survey respondents listed HVAC, Building Envelope, and Energy Efficiency upgrades as their top areas of need.

However, the process for implementing those critical infrastructure investments has often hit a roadblock when it comes to securing the necessary funding. For Pennsylvania school districts, the introduction of a recent grant program may change that.

Here’s What You Need to Know

On Wednesday, December 13, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro signed Act 34 of 2023 into law creating the Public School Facility Improvement Grant Program that provides funding for critical building infrastructure upgrades for K-12 school districts and career and technical education (CTE) centers.

Through the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) and Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), this program provides grants for:

  • Roof repairs and roof replacement;
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment;
  • Boilers and controls;
  • Plumbing systems;
  • Energy saving projects;
  • Health and safety upgrades, including lead and asbestos abatement /remediation and the purchase and maintenance of automated external defibrillators (AEDs);
  • Emergencies;
  • Accessibility projects;
  • Internet connectivity, not including the purchasing of educational technology hardware or software;
  • Demolition project;
  • Window repairs and window replacement; and,
  • Other projects approved by CFA

Grant program awards will require a 25% local match and range from $500,000 to $5,000,000 in project costs. There is no limit to the number of applications a school district can submit, however, no one school entity may receive more than 20% of the overall allocation.

With the creation of this grant program, the state is incentivizing long-term facility maintenance rather than major facility renovation or new construction. This approach provides sustainable and incremental investments into school facility’s aging infrastructure, which aligns to SitelogIQ’s approach to tackling deferred maintenance issues.

Recognizing the deficiencies of PlanCon, the state placed a moratorium on new applications in perpetuity, thus ending the PlanCon Program. Instead, the Public School Facility Improvement Grant Program application process is more streamlined and efficient process as it no longer requires school districts to complete a feasibility study to qualify and negates the cumbersome PlanCon application forms.

How These Project Impact Your Students & District

Research shows that students in classrooms with higher outdoor air ventilation rates scored 14 to 15 percent higher on standardized test scores than children in classrooms with lower outdoor ventilation. As we discuss in our How K-12 Facilities Impact Student Learning and Health blog, everything from temperature, humidity and lighting to indoor air quality, the state of your school facilities impacts student performance, absenteeism, and learning experience.

This grant program provides an opportunity for school districts to apply for funding that will address these areas, along with deferred maintenance issues we often witness in K-12 schools.

These investments will help K-12 district prioritize long-term facility maintenance, protecting the health and safety of their students and staff while also creating a comfortable and flexible environment for exceptional learning for decades to come.

We’re Here to Help

At SitelogIQ, we believe this grant program directly addresses the most pressing physical needs of our Pennsylvania public schools, and we were honored to have testified before the Senate Education Committee earlier this year to discuss the importance of this type of program.

As a facility solutions expert with experience in grant writing and advocacy, we’re here to help you complete the application process to secure this important funding, and to partner with you to plan and execute upgrades to your facilities. In addition, our technology-enabled platform – mySiteIQ – can help K-12 districts like yours organize all of your facility assets, prioritize projects, and optimize project and energy performance.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Pennsylvania Public School Facility Improvement Grant Program and opportunities to make your school buildings better, contact us today.