§ 115C-521. Erection of school buildings.
(a) It shall be the duty of local boards of education to provide classroom facilities adequate to meet the requirements of G.S. 115C-47(10) and 115C-301. Local boards of education shall submit their long-range plans for meeting school facility needs to the State Board of Education by January 1, 1988, and every five years thereafter. In developing these plans, local boards of education shall consider the costs and feasibility of renovating old school buildings instead of replacing them.
(b) It shall be the duty of the local boards of education to make provisions for the public school term by providing adequate school buildings equipped with suitable school furniture and apparatus. The needs and the cost of those buildings, equipment, and apparatus, shall be presented each year when the school budget is submitted to the respective tax-levying authorities. The boards of commissioners shall be given a reasonable time to provide the funds which they, upon investigation, shall find to be necessary for providing their respective units with buildings suitably equipped, and it shall be the duty of the several boards of county commissioners to provide funds for the same.
Upon determination by a local board of education that the existing permanent school building does not have sufficient classrooms to house the pupil enrollment anticipated for the school, the local board of education may acquire and use as temporary classrooms for the operation of the school, relocatable or mobile classroom units, whether built on the lot or not, which units and method of use shall meet the approval of the School Planning Division of the Department of Public Instruction, and which units shall comply with all applicable requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code and of the local building and electrical codes applicable to the area in which the school is located. These units shall also be anchored in a manner required to assure their structural safety in severe weather. The acquisition and installation of these units shall be subject in all respects to the provisions of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. The provisions of Chapter 87, Article 1, of the General Statutes, shall not apply to persons, firms or corporations engaged in the sale or furnishing to local boards of education and the delivery and installation upon school sites of classroom trailers as a single building unit or of relocatable or mobile classrooms delivered in less than four units or sections.
(c) The building of all new school buildings and the repairing of all old school buildings shall be under the control and direction of, and by contract with, the board of education for which the building and repairing is done. If a board of education is considering building a new school building to replace an existing school building, the board shall not invest any construction money in the new building unless it submits to the State Superintendent and the State Superintendent submits to the North Carolina Historical Commission an analysis that compares the costs and feasibility of building the new building and of renovating the existing building and that clearly indicates the desirability of building the new building. No board of education shall invest any money in any new building until it has (i) developed plans based upon a consideration of the State Board's facilities guidelines, (ii) submitted these plans to the State Board for its review and comments, and (iii) reviewed the plans based upon a consideration of the comments it receives from the State Board. No local board of education shall contract for more money than is made available for the erection of a new building. However, this subsection shall not be construed so as to prevent boards of education from investing any money in buildings that are being constructed pursuant to a continuing contract of construction as provided for in G.S. 115C-441(c). All contracts for buildings shall be in writing and all buildings shall be inspected, received, and approved by the local superintendent and the architect before full payment is made therefor. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit boards of education from repairing and altering buildings with the help of janitors and other regular employees of the board.
In the design and construction of new school buildings and in the renovation of existing school buildings that are required to be designed by an architect or engineer under G.S. 133-1.1, the local board of education shall participate in the planning and review process of the Energy Guidelines for School Design and Construction that are developed and maintained by the Department of Public Instruction and shall adopt local energy-use goals for building design and operation that take into account local conditions in an effort to reduce the impact of operation costs on local and State budgets. In the design and construction of new school facilities and in the repair and renovation of existing school facilities, the local board of education shall consider the placement and design of windows to use the climate of North Carolina for both light and ventilation in case of power shortages. A local board shall also consider the installation of solar energy systems in the school facilities whenever practicable.
In the case of any school buildings erected, repaired, or equipped with any money loaned or granted by the State to any local school administrative unit, no board of education shall invest any money until it has (i) developed plans based upon a consideration of the State Board's facilities guidelines, (ii) submitted these plans to the State Board for its review and comments, and (iii) reviewed the plans based upon a consideration of the comments it receives from the State Board.
(c1) No local board of education shall apply for a certificate of occupancy for any new middle or high school building until the plans for the science laboratory areas of the building have been reviewed and approved to meet accepted safety standards for school science laboratories and related preparation rooms and stockrooms. The review and approval of the plans may be done by the State Board of Education or by any other entity that is licensed or authorized by the State Board to do so.
(d) Local boards of education shall make no contract for the erection of any school building unless the site upon which it is located is owned in fee simple by the local board of education and the local board of education has complied with subsection (i) of this section.
(d1) Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, the local board of education of a local school administrative unit, with the approval of the board of county commissioners, may appropriate funds to aid in the establishment of a school facility and the operation thereof in an adjoining local school administrative unit when a written agreement between the boards of education of the administrative units involved has been reached and the same recorded in the minutes of the boards, whereby children from the administrative unit making the appropriations shall be entitled to attend the school so established. The boards of education shall comply with subsection (i) of this section with respect to securing water and sewer to the school facility.
(d2) In all cases where title to property has been vested in the trustees of a special charter district which has been abolished and has not been reorganized, title to the property shall be vested in the local board of education of the county embracing the former special charter district.
(e) The State Board of Education shall establish within the Department of Public Instruction a central clearinghouse for access by local boards of education that may want to use a prototype design in the construction of school facilities. The State Board shall compile necessary publications and a computer database to distribute information on prototype designs to local school administrative units. All architects and engineers registered in North Carolina may submit plans for inclusion in the computer database and these plans may be accessed by any person. The original architect of record or engineer of record shall retain ownership and liability for a prototype design. The State Board may adopt rules it considers necessary to implement this subsection.
(f) A local board of education may use prototype designs from the clearinghouse established under subsection (e) of this section that is a previously approved and constructed project by the School Planning Division of the Department of Public Instruction and other appropriate review agencies. The local board of education may contract with the architect of record to make changes and upgrades as necessary for regulatory approval.
(g) For prototype schools under this section, local boards of education shall be exempt from the designer selection procedure in Article 3D of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes and may enter into an agreement with the original design professional of the prototype to supply design services for future construction of the prototype school.
(h) Each local board of education shall adopt a policy governing change orders to any construction or repair work for which a contract has been awarded in accordance with G.S. 143-128, 143-128.1, 143-128.1A, 143-128.1B, 143-128.1C, or 143-129. The policy shall address, at a minimum, all of the following:
(1) The process by which a proposed change order is submitted by the contractor for approval, including any request for expedited review.
(2) The individual or individuals with responsible authority for approving change orders of a particular category of work or amount, or a combination thereof, and the corresponding descriptions and dollar limits.
(3) The process by which any change order that must be reviewed and approved by the local board is submitted to the local board.
(4) The process by which the local board is notified of all change orders submitted to the individual or individuals identified with responsible authority to approve those orders, and the resulting actions taken.
(i) Prior to any application for any development approval under Chapter 160D of the General Statutes, the local board of education shall inquire, in writing, of the public water system, public sewer system, or public water and sewer system, currently serving the site or closest to the site as to whether that public system has capacity to serve the proposed school facility. The public system shall respond to the local board of education within a reasonable time, not to exceed 30 days as to whether that public system has capacity to serve the proposed school facility. Unless the public system does not have capacity to serve the proposed school facility or is under a moratorium precluding expansion, the public system shall reserve the necessary capacity for the proposed school facility for 24 months from the date of the written inquiry from the local board of education. (1955, c. 1372, art. 15, ss. 5-7; 1969, c. 1022, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; c. 638, s. 1; 1983, c. 761, s. 93; 1985, c. 783, s. 3; 1987, c. 622, s. 14; 1993, c. 416, s. 1; c. 465, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 775, s. 6; 1995, c. 8, s. 1; 1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 18, ss. 18.17(c), (d); 1997-222, s. 3; 1997-236, s. 1; 2009-59, s. 3; 2013-401, s. 7; 2016-58, s. 1; 2016-126, 4th Ex. Sess., s. 24; 2021-180, s. 7.64(a).)