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Chapter 13. School Facilities and Equipment Subchapter 1. School Housing Article 4. Standards, Planning and Approval of School Facilities Standards for Development of Plans for the Design and Construction of School Facilities   

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The following standards for new schools are for the use of all school districts for the purposes of educational appropriateness and promotion of school safety:

(a) Educational Specifications.

Prior to submitting preliminary plans for the design and construction of school facilities, and as a condition of final plan approval by CDE, school board-approved educational specifications for school design shall be prepared and submitted to the California Department of Education based on the school district's goals, objectives, policies and community input that determine the educational program and define the following:

(1) Enrollment of the school and the grade level configuration.

(2) Emphasis in curriculum content or teaching methodology that influences school design.

(3) Type, number, size, function, special characteristics of each space, and spatial relationships of the instructional area that are consistent with the educational program.

(4) Community functions that may affect the school design.

(b) Site Layout.

Parent drop off, bus loading areas, and parking shall be separated to allow students to enter and exit the school grounds safely unless these features are unavailable due to limited acreage in urban areas or restrictive locations, specifically:

(1) Buses do not pass through parking areas to enter or exit school site unless a barrier is provided that prevents vehicles from backing directly into the bus loading area.

(2) Parent drop off area is adjacent to school entrance and separate from bus area and staff parking.

(3) Vehicle traffic pattern does not interfere with foot traffic patterns. Foot traffic does not have to pass through entrance driveways to enter school. Crosswalks are clearly marked to define desired foot path to school entrance.

(4) Parking stalls are not located so vehicles must back into bus or loading areas used by parents. Island fencing or curbs are used to separate parking areas from loading/unloading areas.

(5) To provide equal access to insure the purposes of the least restrictive environment, bus drop off for handicapped students is in the same location as for regular education students.

(c) Playground and Field Areas.

Adequate physical education teaching stations shall be available to accommodate course requirements for the planned enrollment, specifically:

(1) A variety of physical education teaching stations are available to provide a comprehensive physical education program in accordance with the district's adopted course of study (including hardcourt, field area and indoor spaces).

(2) The physical education teaching stations are adequate for the planned student enrollment to complete the minimum instruction and course work defined in Education Code Sections 51210(g), 51220(d) and 51225.3(a)(1)(F).

(3) Supervision of playfields is not obstructed by buildings or objects that impair observation.

(4) Joint use for educational purposes with other public agencies is explored. Joint use layout with parks is not duplicative and fulfills both agencies' needs.

(d) Delivery and Utility Areas.

Delivery and service areas shall be located to provide vehicular access that does not jeopardize the safety of students and staff:

(1) Delivery/utility vehicles have direct access from the street to the delivery area without crossing over playground or field areas or interfering with bus or parent loading unless a fence or other barrier protects students from large vehicle traffic on playgrounds.

(2) Trash pickup is fenced or otherwise isolated and away from foot traffic areas.

(e) Future Expansion.

Site layouts shall have capability for expansion without substantial alterations to existing structures or playgrounds:

(1) Site layout designates area(s) for future permanent or temporary additions that are compatible with the existing site plans for playground layout and supervision.

(2) Utilities to the expansion area are included in the plans and have the capacity to accommodate anticipated growth.

(3) Exits, corridors, stairs, and elevators are located to accommodate capacity of additions, particularly in such buildings added as the multi-purpose/cafeteria, administration, gymnasium/or auditorium.

(f) Placement of Buildings.

Building placement shall consider compatibility of the various functions on campus and provide optimum patterns of foot traffic flow around and within buildings. Site layout of buildings, parking, driveways, and physical education areas shall be adequate to meet the instructional, security and service needs of the educational program:

(1) Building placement is compatible with other functions on campus; e.g., band room is not next to library.

(2) Physical relationship of classrooms, auxiliary, and support areas allows unobstructed movement of staff and students around the campus.

(3) Building placement has favorable orientation to wind, sun, rain, and natural light.

(4) Restrooms are conveniently located, require minimum supervision, and, to the extent possible, are easily accessible from playground and classrooms.

(5) Parking spaces are sufficient for staff, visitors, and students (where applicable).

(6) The campus is secured by fencing and electronic devices such as code entries, electronic monitoring or motion sensors when needed.

(g) Classrooms.

Classrooms at new school sites shall have adequate space to perform the curriculum functions for the planned enrollment as described in the school district's facility master plan, specifically:

(1) Classroom size standards:

(A) General classrooms, grades one through twelve are not less than 960 square feet. Classrooms proposed of less than 960 square feet require written justification to be submitted to and approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Adjacent instructional space shall be included in the calculation of square feet for purposes of approving classroom design.

(B) Proposed classrooms of less than 960 square feet have written justification consistent with the educational program and curriculum indicating that the district's education program can be delivered in the proposed size classrooms.

(2) Total classroom space meets or exceeds the capacity planned for the school using the district's classroom loading standards in accordance with State Allocation Board policy.

(3) Consideration is given to some classrooms which are easily alterable in size and shape at a reasonable cost.

(4) Conduit/cabling and outlets are available for technology in each classroom to provide network and stand alone equipment related to the planned and future potential educational functions.

(h) Specialized Classrooms and Areas.

Specialized classrooms shall be designed to reflect the function planned for that portion of the educational program. If any of the following classrooms are needed, these standards apply:

(1) Small-Group Areas.

(A) Small-group instruction areas are not included in the computation of classroom size unless the area is an integral part of the classroom and can be visibly supervised by a teacher from the classroom.

(B) Small-group instruction areas are designed to allow for collaborative learning opportunities where appropriate to support the regular education program and are located in the vicinity of classrooms.

(2) Kindergarten Classrooms.

(A) Kindergarten classroom size for permanent structures is not less than 1350 square feet, including restrooms, storage, teacher preparation, wet and dry areas.

(B) Kindergarten classrooms are designed to allow supervision of play yards (unless prevented by site shape or size) and all areas of the classroom.

(C) Play yard design provides a variety of activities for development of large motor skills.

(D) Classrooms are located close to parent drop-off and bus loading areas.

(E) Storage, casework, and learning stations are functionally designed for use in free play and structured activities; e.g., shelves are deep and open for frequent use of manipulative materials.

(F) Windows, marking boards, sinks, drinking fountains, and furniture are appropriate heights for kindergarten-age students.

G) Restrooms are self-contained within the classroom or within the kindergarten complex.

(3) Special Education Classrooms and Areas.

(A) A new school designates at least 240 square feet for the resource specialist program and provides additional space in accordance with the allocations in Education Code Section 17747(a) as larger enrollments are being planned.

(B) A new school designates at least 200 square feet for the speech and language program which is close to classrooms when an individualized instruction program is necessary.

(C) A new school designates office area for the psychologist/counseling program which provides for confidentiality and may be shared with other support service programs.

(D) Special day classrooms are at least the same size as regular education classrooms at that site and are properly equipped for the students who will occupy the space, for their age and type of disabling condition.

(E) The square footage allowance in Education Code Section 17747(a) for special day class programs is used for the design of classroom space and other space on the campus to support the special education program. The support space includes but is not limited to speech specialist area, psychologist, counseling offices and conference area.

(F) Special day classrooms are distributed throughout the campus with age appropriate regular education classrooms.

(G) A cluster of two special day classrooms may be considered if support or auxiliary services (e.g., bathrooming, feeding, physical or occupational therapy) are needed to serve the students throughout the school day.

(H) A conference area is available to conduct annual individualized education program meetings for each special education student.

(I) Medical therapy units, if planned for the site, are close to visitor parking areas and accessible after school hours.

(i) Laboratories shall be designed in accordance with the planned curriculum.

(1) Science laboratory:

(A) Size is at least 1300 square feet including storage and teacher preparation area.

(B) Science laboratory design is consistent with the requirements for proper hazardous materials management specified in both the "Science Facilities Design for California Public Schools," published by the California Department of Education, 1993, and the "Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools," published by the California State Department of Education, 1999.

(C) Accommodations are made for necessary safety equipment and storage of supplies; e.g., fire extinguisher, first aid kit, master disconnect valve for gas.

(D) Secured storage areas are provided for volatile, flammable, and corrosive chemicals and cleaning agents.

(E) Properly designated areas are provided with appropriate ventilation for hazardous materials that emit noxious fumes, including a high volume purge system in the event of accidental release of toxic substances which may become airborne.

(F) Exhaust fume hoods, eye washes, deluge showers are provided.

(G) Floor and ceiling ventilation is provided in areas where chemicals are stored.

(H) Room is provided for movement of students around fixed-learning stations.

(I) There is the capability for technology which complements the curriculum.

(J) Classrooms are flexibly designed to insure full student access to laboratory stations and lecture areas.

(2) Consumer Home Economics laboratory:

(A) There is room for movement of students around fixed learning stations.

(B) Cooking equipment reflects current home food preparation practices and/or commercial food preparation simulation.

(C) There is the capability for technology which complements portions of the curriculum, such as fashion design, consumer economics, and nutritional analysis of foods.

(D) There is space for industrial or home sewing equipment consistent with the planned curriculum.

(E) There is storage for student projects and supplies.

(F) Space for work tables is provided for such activities as cutting fabric or completing interior design projects.

G) Lecture area is provided.

(H) At least 1300 square feet is allocated for each laboratory.

(I) If part of the planned program, space for a child care area or for a laboratory to teach child growth and development is provided.

(3) Industrial and Technology/Education Laboratory:

(A) Room is provided for movement of students around fixed learning stations.

(B) Flexible stations with sufficient outlets and power source for industrial type equipment is provided.

(C) Space is provided for various simulations of job-related experiences and laboratory work stations.

(D) There is capability to utilize technology which complements the curriculum, such as computer-aided graphics, electronics and specialized tools.

(E) There is lecture area within each laboratory or near the laboratory area where appropriate.

(F) There are accommodations for necessary health and safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

(G) Secured storage areas for volatile, flammable and corrosive chemicals and cleaning agents are provided where appropriate.

(H) There are properly designated areas with appropriate ventilation for the use of hazardous material that emit noxious fumes or excessive dust particles.

(I) Proper storage and removal access for hazardous waste materials is provided in each laboratory using such materials.

(4) Computer Instructional Support Area:

(A) If a standard classroom is being designated as a computer laboratory, size is at least 960 square feet.

(B) Room is provided for movement of students around learning stations.

(C) Sufficient outlets, power sources, and network links for the amount of equipment are provided.

(D) Proper ventilation is provided.

(E) Room provides for security of equipment.

(F) Lighting minimizes screen glare and eye strain.

(j) Gymnasium, Shower/Locker shall be designed to accommodate multiple use activities in accordance with the planned enrollment:

(1) The gymnasium is secured from other parts of the campus for evening and weekend events or for public use purposes.

(2) The shower/locker area is of sufficient size to allow students enrolled in the physical education program to shower and dress each period.

(3) Toilets are available for the public in facilities intended for shared community use other than in shower/locker areas.

(4) Office space is provided for physical education teachers.

(5) Space is available for specialized age-appropriate physical education activities such as weight lifting, exercise equipment usage, aerobics.

(k) Auxiliary Areas.

(1) Multipurpose/cafeteria area (indoor or outdoor) shall be adequately sized and flexibly designed to protect students from the elements and to allow all students adequate eating time during each lunch period and to accommodate such uses as physical education activities, assemblies, and extracurricular activities:

(A) Tables and benches or seats are designed to maximize space and allow flexibility in the use of the space.

(B) The location is easily accessible for student and community use, but is close to street for delivery truck access.

(C) Stage/platform may have a dividing wall to be used for instructional purposes but is not intended as a classroom.

(D) Area for the cafeteria line is designed for the flow of traffic for each lunch period.

(E) Design of kitchen reflects its planned function; e.g., whether for food preparation or warming only.

(F) Space is available for refrigeration and preparation of foods to accommodate maximum number of students planned for the school.

(G) Office, changing, and restroom area for food preparation staff is available and shall comply with local department of health requirements.

(H) Ceiling height allows for clearance of light fixtures for physical education activities.

(2) Administrative Office.

The administrative office shall have sufficient square footage to accommodate the number of staff for the maximum enrollment planned for the school consistent with the master plan for the school district and shall be designed to efficiently conduct the administrative functions, specifically:

(A) Students have direct confidential access to pupil personnel area.

(B) Counter tops are accessible for an age-appropriate population both at a standing and wheelchair level.

(C) Clerical staff have a clear view of nurse's office.

(D) The nurse's office has a bathroom separate from staff bathroom(s) in administration area.

(E) Space for private conference and waiting area is available.

(F) Capability for such computer networking functions as attendance accounting and communicating to each classroom is considered.

(G) A faculty workroom is available for a staff size proportionate to the student population.

(3) Library/Media Center and Technology.

Library space shall be proportional to the maximum planned school enrollment. The size shall be no less than 960 square feet. However, to allow adaptation for changing technology and communication systems, the following is recommended:

-two square feet per unit of a.d.a. (average daily attendance) for elementary;

-three square feet per unit of a.d.a. for middle or junior high (grades 6-8);

-four square feet per unit of a.d.a. for high school. In addition:

(A) Provide security for technology and media equipment.

(B) Space and capability for computer terminals is considered for student use, research and report writing.

(C) Visual supervision from circulation desk is available to study areas, stack space, and student work centers.

(D) Design for open and closed-circuit television, dedicated phone line, electrical outlets for stand-alone computers, and conduit connecting all instructional areas is considered.

(l) Lighting.

Light design shall generate an illumination level that provides comfortable and adequate visual conditions in each educational space, specifically:

(1) Ceilings and walls are white or light colored for high reflectance unless function of space dictates otherwise.

(2) Lights do not produce glare or block the line of sight.

(3) Window treatment allows entrance of daylight but does not cause excessive glare or heat gain.

(4) Fixtures provide an even light distribution throughout the learning area.

(5) Light design follows the California Electrical Code found in Part 3 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.

(m) Acoustical.

Hearing conditions shall complement the educational function by good sound control in school buildings, specifically:

(1) The sound-conditioning in a given space is acoustically comfortable to permit instructional activities to take place in this classroom.

(2) Sound is transmitted without interfering with adjoining instructional spaces; e.g., room partitions are acoustically designed to minimize noise.

(3) The ventilation system does not transmit an inordinate sound level to the instructional program.

(n) Plumbing.

Restroom stalls shall be sufficient to accommodate the maximum planned enrollment and shall be located on campus to allow for supervision.

(1) Refer to Part 5, Title 24, of the California Code of Regulations.

(2) Outdoor restrooms having direct outside access are located in areas that are visible from playground and are easily supervised.

(o) Year-Round Education.

If a school is being planned for multitrack year-round operation, additional space shall be provided for associated needs:

(1) Additional space is available for storage of records for staff for all tracks. Additional storage space for the supplies and projects of off-track students is considered.

(2) Storage and planning space is available for off-track teachers or teachers not assigned to a classroom.

(p) American Disabilities Act.

Schools shall comply with standards established by the American Disabilities Act (Public Law 101-336, Title II).

(q) Child Care Programs.

Schools shall comply with the requirements set forth in Education Code Section 39113.5 regarding plans and specifications for new schools being designed to provide appropriate space to accommodate before-school and after-school child care programs.

(r) Exemptions.

At the request of the governing board of a school district, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction may grant exemptions to any of the standards in this section if the district can demonstrate that the educational appropriateness and safety of a school design would not be compromised by an alternative to that standard.


Authority cited:

Education Code 17251(c)

Education Code 33031


Education Code 17047(a)

Education Code 17251(c)

Education Code 17310

Education Code 51210(g)

Education Code 51220(d)

Education Code 51225.3

(Amended By Register 2000, No. 44)