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Facilities Planning

School Site Variance


Sites for the construction of a new or the enlargement of an existing school building must meet specific standards pursuant to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Section 155.1(c). Unless otherwise approved by the Commissioner, elementary school sites shall be a three-acre base, plus one additional acre for every 100 pupils or fraction thereof. Secondary school sites shall be a ten-acre base, plus one additional acre for every 100 pupils or a fraction thereof. In each case, acres mean "useable acres". The site standards are generally not applied when the capital construction project consists only of reconstruction or alterations. However, when the alterations will result in increased student enrollment on the site or entirely different grade levels to be housed on the site, then these same standards may be applied.

When the capital construction project is a new instructional facility or addition of any size to an existing instructional facility, the site standards apply. The Commissioner will not approve a new school building or an addition to an existing building that is on an inadequate, substandard site, except where a variance is granted in response to a written request, supported by specific documentation.

In every case, the staff of the Office of Facilities Planning will be attempting to achieve the best, most practical, and most reasonably sized site possible, taking into account local conditions, other limitations, and cost-effectiveness. Therefore, any request for a variance must be carefully and thoughtfully done so as to provide a logical justification for granting a variance. A request for a variance of site standards must include at least the following:

  1. Describe the community setting of the site (residential, commercial, rural, or combination).
  2. State the size of the site in acres, and the number of useable acres.
  3. State the maximum student population(s) – both elementary and/or secondary – expected to be on the site.
  4. State the number of useable acres that the site is below standards.
  5. Describe the properties that bound the school site with references to the points of the compass (street, highway, residential, commercial or undeveloped property, streams, etc.).
  6. State why the project is necessary at the particular site.

What is the location of the site in relation to the students who will be served? · Are other standard-sized sites available in the district?

  1. State what other alternatives were considered and why each was dismissed.
  2. Describe the availability of contiguous acreage with references to size, costs, possible condemnation, and any public lands that might be used with a formal lease arrangement.
  3. Describe the availability of noncontiguous acreage with references to size, costs, crosswalk hazards, etc., and if available, how it would be used.
  4. Indicate what positive steps will be taken if the variance were granted to ensure an adequate outdoor physical education program. For example, bussing to, and/or use of other locations; provision of additional indoor physical education facilities; relocation of varsity interscholastic fields; parking areas offsite; and development of physical education facilities.

In addition to the narrative request for a variance described above, enclose a map of the school district on 8½" x 11" maximum sheet size, which shows the location of all district-owned facilities and another small-scale plan of the site in question.

These site plans must show property lines, roadways, driveways, parking areas, physical education, and athletic facilities, the location of buildings, adjacent land uses, topographical features, and drainage patterns. All portions of the sites having greater than 10 percent slope (1:10) must be crosshatched on the plan.