300 8th Avenue, Suite 202 | San Mateo, CA 94401 | 650-340-1221


We collaborate with our clients, consultants and colleagues.


We advocate for the public, our clients, and the profession of Architecture.


We research in support of design. We believe that the best designs are discovered.


We educate our clients, the community, our profession, …and ourselves.


We make sustainability an integral a part of our practice.


The Division of the State Architect provides design and construction oversight

for K–12 schools, community colleges, and other state-owned and leased facilities.


DSA's authority is derived from Government Code Sections 4450-4461 and Education Code Sections 17280-17317, 17365-17374, 81130-81147


Projects Less than $40,268.17 (2016) (IR10)

DSA review and approval is not required for alteration or reconstruction projects to

school buildings governed by the Field Act with an estimated construction cost of

$40,268.17 or less, for 2015.


Projects Greater than $40,268.17 and less than $161,072.67  (2013) (IR10)

DSA review and approval is not required for alteration or reconstruction projects to

school buildings governed by the Field Act under the following conditions:


A California registered structural engineer shall examine the project and prepare

a written statement certifying that the project does not contain any work of a

structural nature.


The design professional responsible for the project shall prepare a

statement certifying that the plans and specifications (1) contain no work that is

regulated by the accessibility standards of Title 24, (2) contain no work that

triggers accessibility upgrades to existing buildings or facilities, and (3) meet any

applicable fire and life safety standards.


Within 10 days of the project completion, a DSA-certified project inspector shall

sign and submit a verified report to DSA, indicating the completed project is in

conformance with the plans and specifications.


Voluntary Submittal

A design professional or school district may submit plans and specifications,

with the appropriate fee to the DSA for review, even when the project is

exempted from DSA plan review.


Site Work Not Involving Structures or Their Utilities (IR A9)

For school site improvement projects that involve only grading, landscaping, fill placement, paving, storm drains or other work that does not support structures or involve their utilities, the school district is not required to file an application for DSA Structural Safety approval.


Not "School Buildings"

refer to Definition of "School Buildings" page 36 of part 1 of title 24

The following are not considered to be school building but may be submitted separately or may be included in the plans and specifications for a school building project and will be checked under the provisions of the Act if submitted by the school district: one-storey building not over 250 square feet in area when used exclusively as accessory facilities to athletic fields (equipment storage, toilets, snack bars, ticket booths, etc..) greenhouses, barns and materials or equipment storage sheds used exclusively for plant or animal production or protection and not used for classroom instruction (small groups of pupils and teachers may enter these structures for short periods of time): lighting poles less than 35 feet above the grade, antenna towers less than 35 feet above the grade or less than 25 feet above a building roof line, retaining walls less than 4 feet above the top of foundations and not supporting a surcharge, concrete or masonry fences less than 56 feet above adjacent grade, ball-walls or yard walls less than 6 feet above adjacent grade, signs, scoreboards or solid clad fences less than 8 feet above adjacent grade, bleaches and grandstands five rows of seats or less above grades; playground equipment; flagpoles less than 35 feet above grade; open mesh fences and baseball backstops; trailer coaches and "temporary-use" buildings defined below...


Access Only Review

Some projects, depending upon scope, may be submitted to DSA for review and approval. These projects do not receive certification from the State.


Facility Safety

Regardless of DSA submittal and approval requirements,

we highly recommend that all school facilities projects be designed by an Architect and be constructed per Code.


Furthermore careful consideration should be made each time a district determines that a project need not be submitted to DSA.

What is the "Field" Act?

The Field Act has its genesis in the 6.3 magnitude Long Beach earthquake of March 10, 1933. In that earthquake, more than 230 school buildings were either destroyed, suffered major damage, or were judged unsafe to occupy. The buildings had been poorly designed and were not  constructed to resist earthquake forces. Fortunately, it was 5:55 a.m. on a Friday evening, and  schools were closed. It was lost on no one that a disaster had been averted by fewer than four hours. Governor James Rolph, Jr. and the Legislature responded quickly by enacting the Field Act (named after Assembly member Don C. Field), which required earthquake-resistant design and construction of all public schools. It was enacted on April 10, 1933, exactly 30 days after the earthquake. It has since governed the planning, design, and construction of billions of dollars of  public school (K-12) building investments. Implementation of the Field Act is a complex interrelationship with dispersed responsibilities between state departments and agencies, school districts, local government building departments, the educational community, and the construction industry.

In 2006, Assembly Bill 127 (AB127) was passed, giving Community Colleges the option of choosing to design and construct under local building departments or under the Field Act.

— Reprinted from The Field Act and Public School Construction:
A 2007 Perspective
by Alfred E. Alquist, State of California Seismic Safety Commission


DSA Review Threshold

The Governor signed SB 836, the general government trailer bill, which includes a change to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) project review threshold. The bill increases the minimum project cost threshold for DSA review as follows:

  • Structural Projects - from $42,218 to $100,00
  • Non-Structural Projects - from $168,187 to $225,000.

Other Facilities Items

There were no significant changes on the school facilities items as previously reported:

  • Proposition 39 - Provide $398.8 million in Proposition 39 energy efficiency funding for K-12 schools. This is an increase of $85.4 million over FY 2015-16.
  • Safe Drinking Water - Includes $9.5 million in one-time Proposition 98 funds for the State Water Resources Control Board, in consultation with the Department of Education, to administer a grant program for the purpose of improving access to, and the quality of, drinking water in public schools, consistent with the Legislature's intent that school facilities be maintained in "good repair." Grants will be provided for projects such as installation of water bottle filling stations, and installation or replacement of drinking water fountains and treatment devices. CASH supported this proposal.
  • Discretionary Funds - Provides $1.28 billion in one-time discretionary funds, which also pays down the K-12 education mandates backlog.

Additionally, the Legislature rejected the Governor's May Revision proposal to establish a $100 million Emergency Repair Revolving Loan Program, so this program was not included in the final budget. The program was intended to provide temporary funding to schools with insufficient resources to quickly address imminent health and safety issues that would cause students to be displaced.

DSA Closeout Guidance

Please call us for more information at 650-340-1221

Education Code Sections




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