Members of the District’s Master Facilities Committee recently toured schools to see how facilities of varying ages and sizes are being used to support student learning. For a local view, groups visited schools in the Cedar Rapids District, as well as in the Linn-Mar and College Community school districts. A team also traveled to the Kansas City area.
The tours provided committee members with a chance to see District buildings they may have never visited before and also to see the educational spaces in schools, many of which have been built within the last five years. The information gathered will guide future Committee discussion about District investment in existing or new schools as part of our journey to Reimagine, Re-envision, and Reinvest in our students and school facilities.
“From both perspectives as a designer of K-12 environments and as a parent, the tours were invaluable,” said Roger Worm, Committee member. “Seeing current trends in new designs is much better understood when you can experience the space and discuss the process and reasoning behind the completed facility.
“Everything from parent and bus drop-off zones, to building security, student collaboration spaces and furnishings is far more “real” when you see how it works, and getting feedback from faculty, staff, students and maintenance people is the best way to create more meaningful dialogue,” Worm added. “Managing community expectations, district needs, and available funding is an ongoing act of balance, and the visit was a nice chance to hear how their district accomplished this.”
Collectively, the tour participants agreed that:
- Student learning is absolutely taking place regardless of when the school was built or its physical condition
- Newer schools seem to have more planned flexible areas in the school, allowing specific places to be used for individual and group learning
- Older schools have traditions that create an awesome sense of community and pride
“One of the most important take-always was the importance of form and function,” said Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent. “We observed that by incorporating collaborative learning spaces in the design of a school, students and staff members were more seamlessly able to engage in intentional group work. That was often amplified by well-placed, technology supports.”
“Our knowledge of what students need in their daily activities in a school is shaped by the experiences we may have had when we were in school or what our children and/or grandchildren experienced, explained Rob Schwarz, consultant. “Because of this, it was beneficial to see what neighboring school districts have for educational spaces, as well as how two other similar districts in the Kansas City area have responded to reinvesting or rebuilding.”
The Master Facilities Committee will continue their work through the spring. Community members will have the opportunity to share its input at public forums set for April 11, 12, 13.
Learn more about the Master Facilities Planning Process here.