Adding to a campus serves the goal of class size reduction, but what about funding?
The three most popular classroom expansion options, on-site construction, precast concrete modular classrooms, and portable trailers, appear to descend from most expensive to least expensive. However, there are additional costs to consider when weighing your options, as each solution is different and can entail extra fees not originally included in an estimate. To make an educated decision and avoid throwing off your budget and timeline, it’s important to consider the funding and fees associated with each option.
Depending on the district, school funding dollars are designated as new construction, maintenance and facilities, or other. Of course, the amount of money available also depends on the district's finances, and school officials may have to turn to other forms of funding to add structures to a campus.
An advantage to considering a precast concrete modular classroom is that its durability and life span cut down on required maintenance post-installation. Whereas portable trailers tend to require considerable time and money for upkeep, precast concrete classrooms’ durability allow maintenance funding allocations to go further in the long run.
Type IIB Portable or Construction Funding
Funding for the site-built construction of schools is based on current population, not forecasted growth. This means that schools cannot use construction funding to build and prepare for growing class sizes, so by the time site-built construction is complete the school is often overpopulated.
In addition to construction funding, schools may also have access to type IIB portable funding. This pot of money can be used for modular buildings like portable trailers or precast concrete modular classrooms. Precast concrete modular buildings have the advantage of being durable, aesthetically appealing, and from a financial perspective they can take advantage of either construction or type IIB portable funding. Federal grants for precast concrete modular classrooms may soon be a possibility as well; the USDOE has funded construction previously, although usually in response to weather emergencies.
Choosing a precast concrete modular classroom offers a variety of time and money-saving procedures. You deal only with the manufacturer, meaning third-party inspections are conducted before materials ever leave the plant, and classrooms arrive at your campus with DBPR and ASCE 7-10 approval already in place. There are no added architectural or engineering fees—all costs are included in your initial estimate. Setup is quick and done by the same company that manufactures your structure.
Traditional site-built construction comes with a host of “soft costs,'' including architectural/design fees, inspection fees, land/real estate costs, environmental studies, taxes, and construction insurance. Time is often not considered as a cost, meanwhile school districts’ staff time is taken up by extended projects. All of these expenses may not be anticipated or included in an original estimate, which can prove problematic for a budget.
In addition, site-built projects can get political, with designers, contractors, and the School Board all competing for the same pot of money. This can make it difficult to secure the necessary funding to get site-built projects completed.
Portable trailers are often the choice of the budget-conscious, but their need for frequent maintenance can eat into a budget. They’re intended to be short-term solutions, so the moment you need to replace one (or more), your bottom line takes a major hit. This can be avoided by choosing a more lasting, permanent solution up front.
Being informed about campus expansion costs lets you use all the funds at your disposal to the maximum benefit of your student body. Drop us a line if you’re ready to get started on your precast concrete modular classroom project.