Michael Kelly, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP, Principal of Design with KCBA Architects, was invited to speak at a press conference and rally held June 14 in the Capitol Rotunda, urging the legislature to invest state dollars in remediating, repairing, and modernizing Pennsylvania’s school facilities, hosted by Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler. Michael, an AIA Pennsylvania School Construction Task Force member, was one of only two built industry representatives invited to speak about the urgency of dedicating funding to Pennsylvania’s school facilities in the state budget. This opportunity came on the heels of testimony AIA Pennsylvania delivered to the Senate Education Committee in late May, emphasizing the role of the Planning and Construction Workbook Program (PlanCon) in economically and equitably investing in Pennsylvania’s public school infrastructure.
As an architect, Mr. Kelly shared his firsthand experience working on over 300 K-12 school projects across the Commonwealth, “I have visited hundreds of schools throughout the Commonwealth with outdated, unhealthy, and unsafe spaces that are hindering our children during their time when they need to feel safe and excited about learning.”
The dire need for school facilities investment is underscored by the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that declared Pennsylvania’s system of funding public education unconstitutional. Michael ended his remarks with a call to action, “I urge the Commonwealth to resume funding of school facilities so that we can meet the investment of our children and provide an adequate experience including modern, safe, secure and healthy environments for them to learn.”
AIA Pennsylvania supports funding the modernized PlanCon 2.0. We have been actively lobbying for recently introduced legislation reviving PlanCon* to advance with the budget negotiations. This legislation, amending the state’s Public School Code, would dictate that full or partial funding for school facilities in the state’s budget is spent through the PlanCon process and formula for school construction. By law, the budget must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor by June 30; however, the state has been late on this deadline with past budgets.
*As of June 26, 2023, House Bill 1408 passed in the state House of Representatives.