Imagine a school that houses an aquatic center,a wellness center and an open-field for sports and recreational use that would both save taxpayers money and provide a place for community use at night.
With student enrollment on the incline and the use of technology at the forefront of our education,communities and especially parents are looking to architects,planners,government organizations and school administrators to better equip students with school buildings that will last.
Ronald Fanning,chairman of Fanning/Howey Associates,Inc.,was recently,in Washington,D. C.,for a conference that on modern developments in schools.
Fanning,through the use of school bonds,built a multiuse school in Twinsburg,Ohio, in December 1998.
Fanning,author of three books on educational facilities,and who has 40 years of designing community and educational complexes,said,“In turn,this 80,000-square-foot complex was able to provide for the school during the day and the public at night. It was in joint commission with the school bond and other sponsors which in turn saved tax dollars. Now both school and community benefit from one facility.”
These high-tech facilities also are environmentally efficient and save in energy costs as well.
“Twelve percent of all energy spent in a metro area is due to schools,” he said.
With environmentally sound ideas like planting trees around schools to cool and save on energy costs,Fanning estimated that,“For every $1 spent on a tree,you save $2.32 in energy costs.”
Fanning went on to say,“By spending 2 percent more in the bond budget for trees or other energy saving-ideas,you would receive total payback in minimum of two years and maximum of four.”
The speakers aimed to give administrators an idea of the economic,environmental and technological advantages in planning and construction of new schools and the renovation of old ones.
The conference was spsonsored by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International,(CEFPI).
Experts discussed new concepts on building schools that will tie both the communities and educators together in hopes for a more proficient way of educating our nation's children while keeping the community very involved.
“In order to engage the community,you have to provide the community with information,” said Barbara Diamond,program officer for the School Facilities Planning and Design Knowledge Works Foundation based in Cincinnati,Ohio.
Other speakers included Richard Riley,former United States Secretary of Education,and several planners who provided text and photographs about new ways designing of facilities to better accommodate the students’ needs.
With overcrowded classrooms and an increasing demand by community parents for better schools,organizations like the CEFPI are taking new steps in a different direction in designing facilities that will redefine the way schools are built.
Through this,people like Ronald Fanning,are designing facilities to be school by day and community center by night.
Along with economic considerations,schools of tomorrow must also be tailored to the students of today. Schools must now concentrate on becoming more aware of their surroundings and the economic trends of their respective cities.
Elton Dale Scheideman,director of New School & Facility Planning Department for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas,Nev.,one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.,believes that when planning for a new school or renovating an old school,planners must look into the economical pull,the trends in the surrounding job market and the city's culture.
“We are located in Las Vegas,so if our district has a culture,it's entertainment,” said Scheideman. “The community should have schools geared towards the entertainment industry.”
Scheideman backs this by talking about their school's fine arts programs.
“We have some of the most high-tech and fully equipped theaters for stage and drama and every one of our schools in the district has a string orchestra,choir and a full band.”
Scheideman is the principal planner for three school construction bonds set at a value of $4.8 billion,which will spawn 122 new schools and bring up to speed 180 existing schools by the year 2008.
Dr. Nancy Myers, a past director of the CEFPI Board and an active member for 20 years,also agrees that the schools of the future should be in correlation with the Individual Education Plan (IEP) of students.
“We are no longer asking how long do students need to receive a good education,but rather what does each student need?”
Myers explains that,“It is not just Special Ed or Gifted students who need an I.E.P.,now-a-days and especially in the near future,every student will need their own I.E.P.”
Thomas Kube,executive director of CEFPI,looks at the problem with schools and understands that in order to solve problems you must acknowledge them first.
“Schools are going to stay crowded,what we need to do is look into new developments and ways to deal with that situation with best possible research and tools,” said Kube.