CONNstruction - Summer 2012 - (Page 7)

newsandviews Old School CCIA President When planning for school construction and renovations, local school boards, construction managers, and designers have to balance many different factors to meet specific needs. The decision making process is under intense pressure after the economic downturn. In today’s fiscal environment, it will be interesting to see whether there is going to be a shift from building high-end schools to basically doing what it takes to comply with building codes and meet accreditation requirements to get the most out of limited funding. By Donald Shubert site conditions, required system upgrades, student population, and flexibility to meet future demands often require unique approaches to meet each school’s distinct needs. Until recently, it was common to think that, due to the myriad of factors for a district to consider, there is no “one size fits all” approach to public school construction. That may be changing as school districts attempt to meet facility requirements while limiting cost. The budgetary pressures influencing the decisions made regarding school construction, which were escalating for years, are compounding since the economic downturn. Up through 2004, nationally, school construction spending was on the rise. Funding peaked at $29 billion per year. It has been on the decline ever since. School construction in Connecticut at one time exceeded $750 million annually. That has dropped to approximately $650 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Much of this is due to declining tax revenues on the federal, state, and local levels. Another factor is the continual increases in administrative expenses. Combined, these are squeezing budgets and leaving less funding available for construction. Meanwhile, the need for construction and renovation is mounting as facilities age and student populations increase in some areas. During the funding peak, the concept that the quality of school facilities affects student achievement was getting a lot of attention. Funding was available to make dynamic facilities part of the learning experience. Some districts built schools that were designed to create environments that inspire, invigorate, create memories, and shape personalities. Holistic approaches to school Now, budget pressures are forcing many school districts to scale back on longrange facility plans at a time when the average age of the state’s public schools is 50, and the average period since the last major renovation is 18 years. The condition and quality of school facilities are woven into many of the discussions on improving public education in the United States. Facility renovations and new construction can address environmental issues that interfere with classroom instruction, overcrowding, advances in technology to meet new federal mandates on student performance and curriculum, and the adequacy and equity of public education. Some school districts are being forced to undertake renovations and construction by common factors, such as rapid changes in technology, health and safety deficiencies, poorly operating building systems, and accommodating programmatic changes in curriculum and teaching methods. When it comes to addressing those factors, it seems challenging to generalize. Different funding sources, the character and layout of existing facilities, location, design, such as cluster designs and interactive designs, were popular when districts were considering school construction or renovations. Now, budget pressures are forcing many school districts to scale back on long-range facility plans at a time when the average age of the state’s public schools is 50, and the average period since the last major renovation is 18 years. As the plans are scaled back, it remains to be seen whether we continue to build exciting buildings filled with inspiring themes and varied learning opportunities, or approach things differently. As limited funding and rising administrative costs converge with growing needs to expand, renovate, replace, or supplement the current inventory of facilities, we can’t help but wonder whether the new approaches to school construction may have to be combined with some old school thinking. CONNstruction / Summer 2012 / 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2012

Old School
Fiscal Challenges and Changes to School Construction Grant Process May Affect Contractors
Connecticut Apprenticeship Programs: On the Job Scholarship
Time is Money: A Formula for Improving the State’s School Construction Process
Spreading the Word: Terry Wooding, Chair of the AGC of America’s Building Division
A Conversation with Pasquale “Bud” Salemi
2012 Build CT Winners
Large Renovation – Greater than $20 Million: O&G Industries, Inc.
Small Renovation – Less than $5 Million: Petra Construction Corporation
Specialty Contracting – Concrete Award: Manafort Brothers, Inc.
Other Specialty Award: United Steel Inc.
Honorable Mention Specialty - Interiors Award: M. Frank Higgins & Co., Inc.
ConsensusDOCS Offer an Alternative to Perceived Standard Agreements ConsensusDOCS includes more than
2012 AGC of CT Build CT Awards & Dinner
CRBA Spring Dinner Meeting
CRMCA Annual Meeting
Index to Advertisers /

CONNstruction - Summer 2012