Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Students per square footage of classroom/lab/workshop

I do want to express my and Jason’s gratitude to those who sent helpful links and suggestions. Here are some of the responses that I received about Jason’s inquiry. Other than Phil Dettelis’s e-mail, I have not placed names to the other comments as they may not have wanted it posted in an open blog format. Regardless, I hope this information helped Jason and other teachers dealing with this specific issue.
It is difficult for a single governing body to make a blanket statement about the size of a fabrication lab required of a school district because programs very so much from school to school. It is the local decision of a school to determine what is safe for their programs; however, I can offer you some documentation to get you and your district started on determining appropriate safety measures for your school's learning environment. This link http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/facplan/publicat/building_aid_guidelines_072804.html points to a letter dated July 2004 that was sent to District Superintendents from the Office of Facilities Planning. The context of this letter is to address new construction of school facilities. In this letter there is a section titled Minimum Room Sizes with a subsection for Secondary Schools that addresses technology classrooms in the following manner.

e. Technology Classroom including 200 sq. ft. storage
(1 space for each 500 pupils) 2000 sq. ft.
Mechanical Drawing/CAD 840 sq. ft.

I would also recommend that your school engage in a conversation with your BOCES Health, Safety, and Risk Management Department. These departments are well versed in safety codes related to room occupancy. Thank you for your inquiry.
Phil Dettelis
Assistant in Instructional Services-Technology Education
Career and Technical Education
Greg Montague is the NYSTEA expert in the area of students per square foot. 100 to 125 square feet per student in a tech lab. I have had conversations with him many years ago and as I recall there are two different "recommendations", not regulations. One is from NYSTEA and the other is from ITEEA. I am not sure which organization gives which number, but they are not enforcable under any education regulation from my understanding. Otherwise I would only be allowed to have 6 to 8 kids in a class.
The total enrollment is usually based upon the number of workstations in the lab. Count the table spaces in the lab for hands on work and not the machine stations. The inclusion of students with IEP'S may also be counted as more than one student based upon the district policy or teacher contract.
1. Educational facilities are designed with a capacity in mind.  When buildings are designed the architect uses a square foot formula to determine capacity (Technology and Industrial Arts rooms require 75 square foot per pupil).  Also in the planning manual there is a maximum capacity recommendation (Maximum of 24 pupil stations).  Most labs are designed to be 1800 square feet not including storage since you can't have pupil workstations in a store room.

Google the following: NYSED Manual of Planning Standards Educational Facilities.

2. Having said all this, Once the building is designed and in use it is up to the discretion of the Fire Marshall of that district to determine room capacity for a given room.  Basically if the Fire Marshall determines that you can safely fit 50 students then that becomes the capacity.  In my experience the Fire Marshall is an employee of the district or local BOCES and they will approve whatever the administration wants to do. 

3. Have Jason make Administration aware of the Planning Standards Manual.  He needs to push responsibility into their court.  Literally print a copy of the manual, highlight the applicable pages for capacity and document all transactions/ conversations that he has etc., see if they will sign that they are aware that they are overloading the lab and that they know they are creating an unsafe environment.
I looked into Jason's issue quite a lot for our district over the past summer.  I never came across any concrete, had to be, wording.  I did however find a website sponsored by nation science foundation with suggestions for recommended size/planning dealing with square footage and students per class including technology education labs.

I had to write a letter and somewhere on this link I did find it reads size of 1566 sq ft. and 65 sq ft per student is acceptable for hands on woods/ building labs.  I tried to find what page but I cant remember or it may have been taken down.

Search NYSED - EMSC - Technology education - Facilities planning
I came upon this one:
Also, go to NYSTEA.com and there is a link to facilities planning.
....not sure how current it is though.
ITEEA also has information on facilities but it wouldn't have too much weight locally, unless you are a member.

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