California School Facilities Planning
Maureen F. Gorsen, Kevin Wilkeson, G. Christian Roux, Thomas M. Cavanaugh, and Dennis L. Dunston

California School Facilities Planning

Regular price $65.00

Full title: California School Facilities Planning: A Guide to Laws & Procedures for Funding, Siting, Design, & Construction

  • Item# SF
  • ISBN: 978-0-923956-89-9
  • Copyright (c) 2006
  • Paperback
  • Price: $65.00


This book offers a thorough discussion of laws and regulations that govern planning, funding, siting, design, and construction of educational facilities in California. A single-source reference with a comprehensive overview of the field, this book will guide the reader chronologically through every stage of school facilities planning, from initial conception through construction.


  1. History
  2. Funding
  3. Planning & Design
  4. Siting
  5. Constructing


An invaluable tool for planners, consultants, and other school facilities professionals who provide services in the field.

Topics covered include:

  • History of school facilities nationwide and in California
  • Funding sources and financing methods for public school facilities in California
  • Facilities planning and design, both for individual schools and district-wide
  • School siting issues, including acquisition of property and compliance with environmental and land use laws
  • School construction—the entire process from start to finish

School Facilities Planning offers a thorough discussion of laws and regulations that govern planning, funding, siting, design, and construction of educational facilities in California.

A single-source reference with a comprehensive overview of the field, this book will guide the reader chronologically through every stage of school facilities planning—from initial conception through construction.

An invaluable tool for planners, consultants, and other school facilities professionals who provide services in the field.


Maureen F. Gorsen, Esq.

In December 2005, Ms. Gorsen was appointed Director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She also served as Deputy Secretary for Law Enforcement and General Counsel at the California Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for policies regarding implementation and enforcement of air, water, toxics, pesticides, and other environmental laws. Previously, Ms. Gorsen was a partner at Weston, Benshoof, Rochefort, Rubalcava & MacCuish, LLP, where she represented school districts, public agencies, and private developers with a focus on environmental compliance and land use counseling. Prior to that, Ms. Gorsen served as General Counsel for the California Resources Agency where, among other duties, she was responsible for reform and revisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, issues relating to the California Endangered Species Act, the Williamson Act, and the Coastal Act.

Ms. Gorsen is a frequent speaker and author of articles on CEQA, environmental, and land use laws. Ms. Gorsen holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in international environmental policy from the Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Kevin Wilkeson, AIA

Kevin Wilkeson is an architect with more than 20 years’ experience planning, designing, and constructing a wide variety of California education facilities. He is a Managing Principal and Board Chairman at HMC Architects, a full-service architecture practice that specializes in the planning and design of education facilities. Kevin has been actively involved in all phases of the project delivery process for many school districts, colleges, and universities. Some of his projects include the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson, Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, John Burroughs High School in Burbank, and the Bronco Student Union at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Mr. Wilkeson is a frequent speaker on topics such as avoiding construction claims, modernizing schools, building technology into learning environments, and the facilities impacts of education reform. Mr. Wilkeson attended U.C. Irvine and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the California State University, Pomona.

Thomas Cavanagh

Mr. Cavanagh is the managing director of School Advisors, a subsidiary company to HMC Architects. For the past ten years he has assisted school districts throughout the State of California in the planning, justification, and financing of Capitol Development projects totaling over $2 billion in construction. Mr. Cavanagh is also very active in organizations dealing with school facilities, such as the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH), the California Association of School Business Officials, and the Community Colleges Facility Coalition.

Tom is a frequent presenter at many CASH conferences and an instructor for the University of California, Riverside extension program on school facilities entitlements. He holds a B.A. degree in Accounting from California State University in Fullerton.

Mr. Roux is a Partner at Weston, Benshoof, Rochefort, Rubalcava & MacCuish, LLP and represents public owners, including school districts, in connection with substantial capital improvement projects. In particular, Mr. Roux is familiar with all applicable statutory requirements governing both new school construction and school renovation in California. He regularly provides construction counseling to clients on the myriad of issues that arise in connection with construction projects, including project planning and procurement, drafting and negotiating contracts, claims avoidance, and the resolution of legal issues that commonly arise on school construction projects. He has substantial experience both prosecuting and defending multi-million dollar public and private extra work, delay, and disruption claims in all forums, including state and federal courts, administrative hearings, and arbitrations. Mr. Roux also has considerable experience litigating construction defect claims.

G. Christian Roux, Esq.

Mr. Roux regularly speaks on public contracting issues such as bid protests, project start-up and close-out, claims, mitigation strategies and False Claims Act liability. He also recently completed a chapter on the subject of Construction Contract Pass-through Clauses which was published in the 1999 Edition of BLI’s "Construction Contracts Desk book." Mr. Roux holds a BA Degree (with honors) from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.

Dennis L. Dunston, AIA, REFP

Mr. Dunston is a California licensed architect and principal with HMC Architects. He has more than 22 years of experience in architecture, the last 18 of which have been dedicated to the design and construction of educational facilities in California. His experience ranges from the development of educational specifications for all types of school facilities to the design of new campuses. Mr. Dunston is also very active in organizations related to school facilities.

He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Coalition of Adequate School Housing (CASH) and serves on the Implementation Committee for the State Allocation Board. He is also a member of the advisory committee to the University of California Extension program in Educational Facility Planning; an instructor for the course “Site Selection, Educational Specifications, and Facility Design”; a former member of the California Department of Education’s Task Force on the Facility Implications of the Restructured Curriculum resulting in the CDE document The Form of Reform; and active in the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI), serving as president of the Southwest Region in 1996. Mr. Dunston earned a B.S. in Architecture and Masters of Architecture with a Minor in Energy Systems Engineering from Iowa State University.


This book is written to provide a comprehensive overview of the laws and regulations governing the planning, funding, siting, design, and construction of public school facilities in California. It is written to be a tool for school facility planners and consultants who provide professional services for the planning and construction of public school facilities for grade levels kindergarten through twelfth grade.

From initial planning to final construction, a public school facility in California takes from five to ten years to build. During those years, school districts must employ the expertise of numerous specialized fields (e.g., architecture, finance, toxicology, labor law, construction management, and, let’s not forget, education) in order to build a school facility that meets the complex and ever-growing requirements and social goals of California’s laws and regulations. Because at each phase the professionals involved will not be familiar with the other phases of the process, this book will assist in providing a base knowledge of all other areas from which all of the various specialized professionals may draw in order that the greatest efficiencies are achieved in the provision of school facilities.

The book is organized chronologically. Topics are addressed in the order they would be considered by a school district typically from the planning until the construction phase. Each chapter commences with an overview for the reader who merely wants a summary of its contents. Each chapter also contains a section describing the types of professionals and the qualifications needed for each phase of developing a school facility. Organized this way, the book is an easy-reference, single-source overview of the entire school siting and construction process, while also providing a more in-depth and detailed resource and guide at each phase of the planning and construction of the school facility.

Chapter 1, History, discusses the development of school facilities in our nation and in California to assist in a better understanding of the current complex of laws and goals that govern them.

Chapter 2, Funding, describes the many different sources of funds and methods for financing public school facilities in California.

Chapter 3, Planning and Design, guides school districts in both the district-wide planning for facilities and the planning and design for individual schools.

Chapter 4, Siting the Facility, guides school districts with respect to property acquisition and siting of school facilites and compliance with environmental and land use laws.

Chapter 5, Constructing the School Facility, guides school districts on the construction process from start to finish.

Throughout each of these phases or chapters, a school district must communicate and seek approvals from numerous state agencies. Due to the long period of time from initial funding stages to final construction, this book will provide an easy reference source to all district personnel, decision-makers, and consultants who are involved in one or more of the stages of the five- to ten-year process. It will help ensure that steps taken early in the process are fully cognizant of requirements that develop later to prevent inefficiencies and duplication and loss of valuable time in the schedule. It will also help ensure that proper communication occurs at every stage with the relevant state regulatory agency and that transactions costs are reduced.

The California Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for approving proposed sites for schools as a condition of allocated state funds to districts for the acquisition of sites. CDE establishes standards and regulations governing school sites, particularly as they may materially relate to the educational program. For instance, site size standards relate to the policies such as lowering the class size in kindergarten through grade three, student safety, use of advanced technology, and fostering community involvement. The School Facilities Planning Division (SFPD) of CDE also reviews school sites. The review of SFPD often overlaps, and may even duplicate the review of the other state agencies. For instance, SFPD reviews for certain environmental hazards and also reviews construction plans, although the focus is mainly on the educational adequacy. Disbursement and allocation of state funds is administered by the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC), which implements statutes and administrative policies of the State Allocation Board (SAB). OPSC establishes standards and regulations governing a school district’s eligibility for state funds for acquisition, new construction, and modernization of existing schools, including local district matching requirements, financial hardship requirements, and a priority system for allocating funds among school districts.

The Division of the State Architect (DSA) reviews building design and construction, and provides design and construction oversight for K-12 schools and community colleges.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is responsible for the assessment, investigation, and cleanup of proposed school sites to ensure that they are free of contamination or, if the properties were previously contaminated, that they have been cleaned up to a level that will be protective of the students and faculty occupants. All proposed school sites for which state funding is sought for acquisition and/or construction are required to undertake a rigorous environmental review and, if necessary, cleanup process under DTSC’s oversight.

In addition to these state agency regulatory review processes, a school district must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a further rigorous environmental review, which is a prerequisite or triggering point for the other state review processes. A school district may also have to comply with the adopted codes and regulations of local government land use authorities.

This book is a single-reference source for the laws and processes relevant to siting, funding, and constructing school facilities, but also provides guidance to school facility planners on how best to proceed and integrate the numerous processes with state regulatory agencies, local government, and district requirements to enhance efficiencies and avoid stumbling blocks. This book primarily addresses the planning, funding, siting, and construction requirements for K-12 public education. However, much of the book is also relevant to community colleges. The DSA approval requirements for design and construction plans are nearly identical for K-12 and 12-14 grade levels at community colleges. Community colleges must go through similar siting, land use, and environmental review requirements as for K-12 public school districts, with some limited exceptions. Unlike K-12 school districts, however, community colleges do not have the ability to exempt themselves from local zoning requirements. Educ. Code § 31951. In addition, most colleges are not authorized to use design-build methods of project delivery. By special legislation in 2002, Los Angeles, San Jose-Evergreen, San Mateo, and eight other Community College Districts have been authorized to use design-build until 2007. AB 1000 (2002). Thus, with limited exceptions, the guidance in chapters 4 and 5 will be useful to community colleges, and the entire book may be useful for their siting and construction.

Since community colleges are not subject to the same educational specifications as K-12, and state funds are disbursed under different regulations and by a different state agency—the Chancellor’s Office, California Community Colleges—chapters 2 and 3, which deal with funding and planning of school facilities, may be of limited use.

The book is the result of a collaboration of experienced professionals expert in each individual area of school siting and construction. In addition to describing what is required at each phase of the process, the co-authors, contributing authors, editors, and expert reviewers have infused the text with their hard-earned lessons and advice in their respective areas of expertise. The collection of authors, co-authors, contributing editors, and other reviewers, who have been involved at every level in the school planning, design, siting, and construction process, are specialists in their respective areas. Many have been keen observers of district, local government, and state government politics and policies over the past 20 years. This book contains the wisdom and observations from their collective experience and observation. The value-added from their contributions is immeasurable.

It has oftimes been said, half in jest, that in California it is easier to build a power plant than a school. By integrating the numerous regulatory, funding, and district-level review processes in a single comprehensive volume, in a manner that is understandable to school administrators, board members, support personnel, and their retained consultants not specially trained in each of the specialized fields involved (e.g., architecture, finance, law), the intent and purpose of this book is to facilitate speedier and less costly school siting and construction in California.


More from this collection