School Construction Square Footage
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OLR Research Report OLR Research Report

The Connecticut General Assembly


May 8, 1995 95-R-0444


FROM: Mary H. Brown, Research Fellow

RE: School Construction Square Footage

You asked for the school construction square footage requirements in Connecticut and New York. You specifically asked whether the requirements are ever waived in either state.


Connecticut statutes and Department of Education (DOE) regulations provide a range of maximum square footage specifications for construction of school buildings depending on grade level and projected enrollment. These standards are waived only through special legislation. New York's school facility size requirements reflect unwritten policy for minimum square footage of, for example, 770 square feet per elementary school classroom. New York's standards are infrequently waived.


David Wedge of the school facilities unit of the Bureau of Grants Services of the DOE provided the following space specifications from the department's regulations (see attachment). In kindergarten through fourth grade, the allowable space per pupil is 124 square feet, assuming a projected enrollment of up to 350 pupils. This space drops to 120 square feet per pupil for enrollments projected from 350-750; and, to 112 square feet per pupil for a projected enrollment of more than 1,500 students.

In grades five and six, the space starts at 156 square feet for up to 350 students, and declines to 142 for enrollment projected at more than 1,500 pupils. In grades 10 through 12, the square footage begins at 194 and declines to 178 for more than 1,500 students.

According to the regulations, “The square footage per pupil allowances for all grades housed shall be summed and divided by the number of grades housed to determine a maximum square foot per pupil for the facility.

The DOE regulates waiver applications as well. “Applicants for vocational agricultural projects, special education center projects, or school building projects which exceed the state standard space specifications solely as a result of extraordinary special education needs must apply to the Commissioner for a waiver of space limitations. ” According to Wedge, “Although the (regulations) allow a district to request a waiver, the few times it has been done is through special legislation.


New York uses the following standard: 770 square foot classrooms in a typical elementary school (grades one through six) of 10 classrooms, 27 children per classroom; plus 15 square feet per pupil for a gym and for a cafeteria. An area for special education and a school library would each be a minimum of 900 square feet. And a kindergarten classroom has to be 900 square feet. New York's policy for square footage is not part of statute or written department regulations.

New York employs a building aid ratio to issue grants for school building construction, according to Mark Kellett a project manager in the facilities planning division of the New York education department. Under the ratio formula, Kellett explained, a school construction project in Westchester County would not be subsidized with a state grant, but one in a lower economic area of the state could receive a grant for 75% of the project cost. For an elementary school building, the state grant is estimated at $ 9,000 per pupil ($ 9,000 X 27 = $ 243,000) per classroom.

Kellett said a school can be built larger and still receive a state grant. But if a school is built with lower square footage than the education department calls for, no state grant will be forthcoming.

MB: lc

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Subject: 95ʊRʊ0444
Author: OLR
Number: 444
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