Opening the Doors to Learning
Among the first school buildings to be LEED certified, Forest Hills Eastern High School in Michigan is a green school. In addition, its innovative design eliminates bottlenecks to student traffic and to learning itself. Open classrooms with double-wide doors, open corridors with no locker congestion, and open areas that encourage interaction all help foster the growth of open minds. It’s a clear example of how architecture and accessible design can produce practical results.
Spaces for Teaching Science
When planning new science space, architects are often confronted with an astounding variety of different and contradictory points of view from science teachers, laboratory consultants, and administrators—all of whom believe passionately in their opinions. Typically, the only objective on which everyone agrees is that the new facility needs to provide the best possible teaching and learning environment.
Planning for Equity
No magic formula will help school districts find long-term strategies for attaining—and maintaining—desegregation and equity. But districts can take some simple steps to further desegregation. A comprehensive focus on equity in programs and facilities is the best way to help desegregation stick. School board members and administrators, and the courts, must be attuned to opportunities to encourage desegregation as a part of district planning—and to the equity that such careful planning engenders.
"No Cost" School Renovation
Ohio’s Poland Local School District recently completed $5.5 million in additions and upgrades at no cost to the taxpayers. How did they do it? The district entered into a multiyear energy performance contract that allows them to pay off their loan through the savings realized by the renovation itself. Taking advantage of an energy performance contract let this small district make extensive improvements without asking the taxpayers for money.
A Working Lesson in Civics
The Medina High School and Community Center in Medina, Ohio, is a model of cooperation and collaboration between a school district and its community—and a great civics lesson for students. Since the high school was expanded and modernized in early 2003, it has become the home base for a number of school-community partnerships that offer wide-ranging programs in a state-of-the-art facility.
When Large Is Small
Thirty years ago, American educators thought they knew what made a good high school: It was highly efficient, departmentally organized, and served students of all abilities with a "cafeteria menu" of courses. Smaller high schools were consolidated into larger, regional units to provide a broader curriculum and greater efficiency. Today we recognize the weaknesses of the 1970s high school. "Schools within schools" provide the intimacy and personalization of small schools without sacrificing the efficiency and offerings of large facilities.
Building Schools in Phases
Population surges have stretched buildings to capacity in many school districts across the United States. Unfortunately, the funding to house additional students has not followed as quickly—if at all. Increasingly, district officials struggle to do more with less, especially when it comes to new construction. Whether the goal is to renovate and expand existing schools or to build new ones, multi-phasing—also known as creating educational facilities in stages—is one solution.
Improving Comfort, Enhancing Learning
The Southwest Licking School District, near Columbus, Ohio, faced the unwelcome trio of aging facilities, shrinking budgets, and a growing student population. They found the answer to their dilemma in Ohio House Bill 264, a 20-year-old piece of legislation that allows schools to enter into a performance contract with a vendor, giving the district a way to raise capital and pay for improvements with energy savings.