Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) is faced with many diverse challenges as it pursues improving the educational opportunities for students in the city including, financing, programs and prioritizing the extensive physical needs of the schools.  Addressing the disinvestment that has occurred in the school buildings over the last 25 years and improving the educational environment are critical elements of the overall plan for educational improvement.

The SDP buildings have been neglected because of recurring financial problems that have led to a low prioritization of facility funding needs.  In the years that capital funds were available, 1950-1980, the focus was on new construction and over 100 new schools were built.  Following that building boom, there was virtually NO capital investment from 1978 – 1986, so even the newer buildings lacked appropriate capital maintenance to preserve structural and mechanical systems.  Capital funding since 1986 has been insufficient to support a school district with over 30 million square feet of space where 65% of the buildings are over 50 years old.  An aggressive capital program is now the only way to preserve the existing buildings that are structurally sound, replace those buildings that cannot be repaired and provide additional educational opportunities for students.

This Capital Improvement Program (CIP) was developed in support of the district’s educational plan, taking into consideration how our facilities needed to support programmatic changes occurring at the schools.  The CIP was developed to achieve four key objectives:

  • Improve High School Options – increase the availability of smaller schools serving 800-1000 students through new construction and major renovations of existing buildings.
  • Phase Out Middle Schools – convert middle schools to small high schools and elementary schools where appropriate and concurrently expand grades at elementary schools from K-5 to K-8.
  • Alleviate Elementary School Overcrowding – construct new schools, additions and annexes to relieve overcrowded conditions that have resulted from long-term demographic shifts throughout the district.
  • State of Good Repair – stabilize the portfolio of existing buildings through phased rehabilitation including exterior envelope, electrical/mechanical replacements and interior finishes: extend the life of the facilities: provide educational enhancements in support of curriculum/programmatic changes (such as upgrading science labs and multi-media centers).

These objectives continue to be the driving force of the CIP development.  A cross-departmental team, including representatives from education departments, was assembled to review projects underway and project proposals. In evaluating addition to how these projects related to the four objectives, this team assessed the need for projects currently under development.  Projects were assessed for readiness as well and those projects truly critical, such as life-safety improvements, were immediately moved forward.  Recently completed facility condition assessment information continues to be analyzed to determine the severity of need of projects proposed for replacement, rehabilitation and even possible closing. Demographic trends and projections continue to be considered during this process as well in order to ensure the overall long-term plan would adequately address the District’s future needs.

Following the internal process, the original CIP was released for public comment.  Five public hearings at schools throughout the city were conducted to explain the proposal and elicit comment.  The public hearings were very well received and transcripts are available for review.  Students, parents and school-based personnel are truly excited about the improvements this capital plan is effecting.
The primary components of the new 2007-2013 CIP can be broken down into major categories of work.  It is important to note since 2003 approximately $1.23 billion in funding has been identified and an additional $270 million will be needed to complete the original $1.50 billion 2003 CIP, and funding is being identified for those projects starting after 2008. 
Approximately 86.2% of the categories of work support capital projects; 22.3% funds new school construction, 41.3% funds major renovations, classroom modernizations, additions and environmental issues, and 22.7% funds capital life cycle issues.  The remaining funds cover administrative costs, insurance costs, bond issuance costs, and contingencies.