Long-Range Facilities Planning
School facility master planning requires a thorough and systematic approach to facility planning. This approach is an interconnected series of steps or phases, each with important information for the school and community. As such, it is best done with community involvement.
The first phase of planning includes a thorough review of the existing data in the school district. This data typically includes policies, procedures, existing school floor plans, site plans, enrollment histories, and any prior facility studies. Also of importance for the planning team is an understanding of the district’s target student-teacher ratios, desired maximum school sizes, daily school schedules, and teacher preparation spaces.
The second phase of planning has two parts. The first requires a detailed assessment of each facility. The assessments falls into two areas: physical space and functional adequacy of spaces. The physical assessment is done by professional architects or engineers and includes a complete review of all building systems (i.e. structural, mechanical, electrical, etc.) A facility condition index (FCI) score is developed in this process. Each facility is also assessed to determine how well it supports the educational program. This functional adequacy assessment, prepared by an educational professional, examines the sizes, adjacencies, utilities, and other features of each space. The second part requires an understanding of student enrollment. It is critical to see that schools are placed near student residences and there are adequate numbers of teaching spaces. Our team uses several reliable methods of projecting enrollment. Among them are trend analysis models, linear regression models and cohort survival methods. School capacity for each school is also calculated using several models. And finally, the planning team calculates the present and future utilization to ensure an effective and efficient use of space.
The third phase of planning pulls all the information together and develops a thoughtful, data-driven plan for the future. Using information gathered in Phases I-II, the team develops options, from which, a specific facility master plan is selected. It may include some or all of the following: additions to existing schools, renovations and remodeling of older schools, building new schools, changing grade configurations, “re-purposing” the school, or changing attendance boundaries to fully utilize all facilities. Cost estimates for each project is developed. Concept plans may also be created to graphically show the end product of the facility master plan.
The final phase of planning includes several pre-construction steps necessary for a successful project. These include (1) the preparation of educational specifications to ensure that the facility conforms to the educational program, (2) the development of equipment and design standards to ensure qualitative conformance, (3) the development of a finance model to fund the project, and (4) the management of the project as the owner’s representative. Phase IV ensures there is continuity and accountability between the earlier planning phases and the actual construction project.
Recent Facilities Planning Examples & Clients
Moses Lake School District, WA
Spokane Public Schools, WA
Centralia School District, WA
Kalama School District, WA
Chimacum School District, WA
Lake Pend Oreille School District, ID
Educational specifications are a set of concisely written, organized objectives that describe the educational facility needs of students, educators, and the community. They often reflect board policies and descriptions of the educational and support service programs. For a good school improvement program to meet the needs of a community, the educational program requirements should “drive” the architectural function. Educational specifications are best developed collaboratively when written by educational facility planners while architects prepare the architectural program. While these tasks may look similar, they are very different. The final educational specification document serves as a written communication between educators and the design professionals.
Common elements included in the educational specifications are:
- Project rationale
- Community data
- Educational plans
- General building considerations that include:
- Circulation, vehicle access and parking, building security, technology and communications, community use, maintenance and energy conservation.
- Site considerations
- Descriptions of instructional and activity areas to include:
- Program philosophy and goals, program activities, relationships to other areas, utilities, surfaces, storage, furniture and equipment, and future needs
Developing educational specifications provides an effective means of communication between the school district and the design professionals. It can also improve public involvement. Because such a large percentage of the public does not have students in school, schools are challenged to include these community members in the school facility improvement efforts. Educators gain a better sense of how the community may use school facilities and the community learns more about its schools. The written educational specifications and the discussion involved in their development greatly improve communications and mutual understanding. Simply outlining spaces and square footage from standards is not enough in this day and age of collaboration and cooperation. Several review sessions and intensive crosschecking are commonly found in the best educational specification development processes. Improved communications and mutual understanding lead to a better school construction project.
Recent Educational Specification Examples & Clients
Brewster School District, WA
Elementary School and
White River School District, WA
Middle School and
two Elementary Schools
Chehalis School District, WA
Two Elementary Schools
Ocosta School District, WA
Seattle Public Schools, WA
Plummer-Worley School District, ID
Management & Efficiency Reviews
Management and Efficiency Reviews
Management and Efficiency Reviews are focused on improving both the financial and resource efficiencies of a District while also improving the quality and/or effectiveness of a specific department or focus area.
Most of these types of reviews end up identifying recurring cost savings or reallocation opportunities for Districts.
The example projects are an indication of the breadth of support we offer Districts in Management and Efficiency Reviews.
Management and Efficiency Review Examples & Clients
Federal Way Public Schools, WA
Safety and Security Review
Lake Washington School District, WA
Capital Projects Management Review
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, WA
School Improvement Audits
Walla Walla Public Schools, WA
Organizational Structure Study
Woodland Public Schools, WA
Facility Services Management Review
Educational leaders are continually faced with understanding local, state, and national trends in education. Perhaps none of them have more practical value than understanding demographic trends and changes in enrollment. Educational administrators use enrollment projections to help prepare for adequate spaces, materials and supplies, and teaching staff.
An understanding of local demographics requires gathering information from a variety of governmental and private sector sources. The US Census provides a wealth of information but is sometimes difficult to gather and analyze. State and local housing data provides important information about where growth or decline may occur, and it provides important “yield factor” data for some enrollment projection models.
All enrollment projection models, at best, provide estimates of future populations based on a set of assumptions. Because no one model is foolproof, educational leaders should consider more than one method and look for patterns in the collection of models. Teater-Crocker uses five models for projecting enrollment and combines them to create a reliable estimate of future enrollments.
Teater-Crocker has also released an online tool for school districts, K12enroll.com, to give superintendents 24/7 access to their district enrollment projections. These enrollment projections are updated throughout the year as data becomes available, ensuring that superintendents always have the latest projections when making important decisions.
School Attendance Boundaries
Public school leaders are charged with the efficient and effective use of school facilities. Among many challenges in this endeavor is the challenge of keeping school enrollments and school building capacities from becoming “mismatched. With new housing developments and other demographic changes, some schools become overcrowded while others may have excess space. Over time, most school districts must renovate, expand, close facilities, or build new schools. These changes may require a realignment of attendance boundaries to prevent capacity alignment problems.
Realigning school attendance boundaries is a complex, and sometimes contentious process, requiring enrollment projection expertise, modern GIS technology, an understanding of school busing, the ability to analyze facility capacity, and expertise in working with groups of stakeholders on multiple solutions. Most school districts, even if they have personnel with these skills, are unable to free them from their daily job responsibilities to realign attendance boundaries. Instead, districts often seek help from experts with these unique skills.
Within its school facility planning practice, Teater-Crocker has expertise and experience in guiding districts through this process. Unlike other firms that concentrate on technology-generated solutions, Teater-Crocker emphasizes stakeholder participation and the collective wisdom of community involvement as boundaries are adjusted.