Planning Commission hears schools’ capital program for 2013

The Philadelphia School District’s Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal year 2013 carries a total budget of $187.6 million, most of which will be dedicated to improvements on existing school facilities.

Danielle Floyd, deputy chief of staff for the Philadelphia School District, presented the District’s Capital Improvement Plan for the year to the City Planning Commission at its monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon.

In part because of the District’s daunting financial challenges, Floyd said, the 2013 plan is focused more on life cycle investments to school facilities and less on new construction than previous years’ plans. It deemphasizes any new construction that adds more capacity to the District.

“The Capital Improvement Plan is not divorced from the fiscal realities of the school district,” Floyd said.

The 2013 plan contains $106.9 million in life cycle spending out of a total budget of $187.6 million. The life cycle spending includes $12.9 million on boiler and chiller replacements, $35.4 million on structural and façade restorations, $17.5 million on roof replacements, $8 million on window replacements, and $33.1 million on electrical system upgrades and replacements, according to Floyd’s presentation.

The District’s capital plan for the next five years has a projected budget of $800 million.

The new plan is focused on three areas, according to Floyd: facilities master planning, sustainability initiatives, and adaptive reuse.

In reviewing data from the District’s earlier capital improvements, including $1.9 billion in spending over the last nine years, Floyd said the District was “pleasantly surprised” to find that its spending largely matched its priorities. She said the harmony between the projection and the outcome is encouraging for the District’s capital program team as it plans for the next several years.

The Planning Commission is required to review the schools’ Capital Improvement Program each year, but it is not required to take any action. City Planner Jametta Johnson, who introduced Floyd for the presentation, said the Commission generally supports the priorities of the capital program. The Planning Commissioners had no comments or questions, and didn’t indicate either approval or disapproval of the plan.

Danielle Floyd acknowledged that the capital plan may change as the District tries to implement its new restructuring plan, which calls for up to 40 schools to be closed next year.

“As you may know,” Floyd said, “the School district is currently undergoing a restructuring plan that will impact future capital spending. Once that plan has been completed, the current capital plan will be amended to reflect the new capital priorities.”

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