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06/18/2024 01:55 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 21, 2024 12:32 PM
From: Representative Elizabeth Fiedler and Rep. Lindsay Powell, Rep. Tarik Khan, Rep. Tarah Probst
To: All House members
Subject: Creating an Office of School Facilities
School facilities are an integral part of education, and the Commonwealth Court’s unconstitutional ruling stated that it is not enough for students to learn in facilities that are “generally safe” -- the facilities “must be safe, and adequate.” Unfortunately, examples of unsafe and inadequate school facilities are well documented, including in the Court’s ruling, but state lawmakers and administrators do not have a holistic, statewide understanding of the problem.

A substantial investment in school facilities is needed to bring Pennsylvania’s public school funding system into constitutional compliance, and the most effective and efficient way to do that necessitates a stronger role for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Therefore, we propose to create the Office of School Facilities within PDE that will be charged with the following:
  • Maintaining a public-school facility inventory
  • Ensuring school entities regularly complete a building condition assessment and a district-wide facilities study
  • Assisting school entities, particularly high-need school districts, with assessing their infrastructure needs and leveraging federal, state, and local resources
  • Coordinating school facility planning and improvement across agencies
  • Offering professional development to school leaders
This information will increase transparency and enable state leaders to make informed decisions not only about how much funding is needed but also where it is most needed for all students to have adequate places to learn.

When we commit millions or billions of public dollars to fix a complex problem, we must do it intelligently. We must coordinate all involved parties, we must garner all available resources, we must come up thoughtful plans to direct money to where it is most essential, and we must ensure funds are not wasted. We need an Office of School Facilities to do that work.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important and needed piece of legislation.