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42 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                                                         PART FOUR

                                            Making it Happen




T             he challenge of building new schools and modernizing existing ones offers the

              opportunity to enhance teaching and learning, and to strengthen communities

              at the same time.

By initiating a thoughtful, inclusive school facilities planning process, school districts can

incorporate diverse points of view, take advantage of the power and creativity of parent and

business partnerships, enlist widespread community funding support, and create high

performance schools that serve both students and their communities.

There is no precise formula for making this all happen, but the following 19 steps—and the

action checklists that accompany them—provide the basics.

                    Getting Started and Getting Organized — Steps 1 through 5

            Involving the Community in the Planning Process — Steps 6 through 12

               Developing and Implementing a Master Plan — Steps 13 through 19




            In any community, if a cross section of key leaders gets together
   and sees an issue that needs attention, especially one with economic implications,
                             something's going to happen.
    —Cynthia Marshall, Executive Director, Cities in Schools of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, North Carolina




                                                                                                    PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 43
                                         Getting Organized and Getting Started
                                                         STEPS 1 THROUGH 5




The initial phase of the planning process                         STEP 1                         come from conversations among neigh-
requires strong leadership and commit-                                                           bors, a small group of concerned citizens,
                                                             Initiating
ment, which must come not only from                                                              or a single individual.
                                                       the Planning Process
school board members and school district                                                             An assistant superintendent and a local
officials; it must come from concerned and                                                       developer got things started in northern


                                                1
                                                       The planning process for schools is
active people and organizations within the             typically initiated by the local school   California's Western Placer Unified School
community.                                             board or school administration, but       District by talking to the local school
                                                the spark that ignites the process may           board. In Gulfport, Mississippi, the school
                                                                                                 board president kicked things off, and




Step one is simple: Identify a handful of key players in your community—perhaps four to six—for an initial meeting or conversation.
Photo: Photodisc.



44 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                                          Mighty things from small beginnings grow.
                                          —Annus Mirabilis, poem by John Dryden published in 1666–1667




within a year more than 450 Gulfport citi-           At the initial meeting, present the             • Training and support materials
zens were participating in the district’s         issues at hand along with the idea of
                                                                                                     • The services of a professional planner
master planning process. When eventually          creating a community-wide process for
                                                  developing a school facilities plan. Trust
                                                                                                     or facilitator or the dedicated time of a
presented to voters, the plan they had
                                                  the group to create solutions and                  qualified district employee to oversee
developed to replace two facilities and
                                                  provide guidance.                                  the process
renovate the district's remaining schools
was overwhelmingly approved in the                   As a group, create an action plan that          • Paying for release time (utilizing
largest school bond issue allowable under         encompasses the next four steps of the             substitute teachers) or extended time
Mississippi law.                                  planning process. Consider beginning the           (with overtime payments) to allow
                                                  action plan with a short statement of              school personnel to participate in
       STEP 1 ACTION CHECKLIST:                   purpose that articulates clearly what you          planning sessions
               INITIATING                         want the planning process to accomplish.
                                                  This statement will be useful as you move
                                                                                                     • Paper, printing, and postage to
        THE PLANNING PROCESS
                                                  through the following steps.                       produce and disseminate interim
  Identify a handful of key players in                                                               and final reports
your community—perhaps four to six—
                                                                                                     • The services of a communications
for an initial meeting or conversation.
                                                                   STEP 2                            specialist or media consultant to help
When considering prospective players,
                                                              Funding                                communicate goals and plans
take into account their likely level of
commitment and their potential for                      the Planning Process                         • Clerical or technical assistance,
leadership as well as their community                                                                as needed.



                                                  2
standing. An active parent might be the                    An extensive community-oriented
right person to help spread the word                       planning process requires funding,    In a world of shrinking resources and
and mobilize a larger group. An influ-                     and one of the first tasks of the     growing demands for public account-
ential business owner or clergy member            initiating group will be to secure it. Since   ability, obtaining funding for the planning
might be most effective at initiating the         the process proposed here is both philo-       process can be a major obstacle. When
planning process. Local governmental                                                             citizens want hard data and measurable
                                                  sophically and practically a collaborative
leaders may have an interest in sharing
                                                  and inclusive one, a combination of public     results, the whole notion of planning might
facilities and the cost benefits derived
                                                  and private funds will probably provide the    well be seen as an expendable frill. When
from multiple uses of the same spaces.
                                                  best funding mix.                              teachers are underpaid or their positions
  Extend personal invitations to bring                Regardless of potential funding sources,   are eliminated because of funding short-
this small group together. Keep in mind           members of the initiating group need to be     ages, or when students have too few
that face-to-face conversations are more                                                         textbooks—let alone adequate access to
                                                  able to tell prospective donors why the
effective than phone calls, and phone
                                                  money is needed.While specific expendi-        computers—a community-based planning
calls are more effective than letters.
                                                  tures and expenses for the planning process    process might be viewed as a luxury the
  Select a leader for the initial meeting.        undoubtedly will vary from community to        district can ill afford.
Consider someone who is skillful at               community, funds likely will be required for       Addressing these issues and concerns
facilitating conversations, but who will          each of the following activities:              requires proponents to imaginatively and
not dominate them.                                                                               persuasively articulate the benefits of



                                                                                                         PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 45
   One of the toughest challenges in the beginning was convincing the school board that we should
 spend more money on planning.... In the end, the total cost of the facilities that were suggested in the
     master plan cost 19 percent less than if we had used a traditional model. Our planning costs
       represented only 5 percent of the projected savings. We felt like we had earned our keep.
                            —Roger Yohe, Superintendent, Western Placer Unified School District, Lincoln, California




planning, relying on concrete research          board support is vital to the success of a         professional. Even when there are skilled
and examples that demonstrate convinc-          widespread planning effort, and that               facilitators on staff, an outsider may be
ingly how an investment in planning can,        board members are more likely to sanc-             best because of the neutral image, external
                                                tion and allocate funding when they are
over the long term, positively affect stu-                                                         knowledge, and fresh approach he or she
                                                included as players from the outset.
dent achievement, the community, citizen                                                           can bring.
support, and fiscal management.                    After you have secured funding,                     Although each district will need to
                                                tailor plans to reflect your actual budget.        consider its own unique situation and
       STEP 2 ACTION CHECKLIST:                                                                    resources to determine who should be the
   FUNDING THE PLANNING PROCESS
                                                                                                   facilitator, the process will succeed only if
                                                                   STEP 3                          the facilitator can devote a significant
  Create a list of potential donors.
                                                                                                   amount of time and energy to the work.
Consider both public and private                    Identifying a Facilitator
sources.
                                                                                                       It may take a year of thoughtful,
                                                                                                   concentrated work to build the community


                                                3
                                                         Once the school board has sanc-
  Develop a proposed budget based
                                                         tioned a facilities planning process      consensus necessary for a quality planning
on the kind of planning process you
                                                         and secured funding to support it,        process. Time, knowledge, and expert facil-
envision for your district and com-
                                                the next step is to identify a facilitator to      itation skills are needed to share the infor-
munity. Include categories for all the
                                                organize and oversee planning activities.          mation and perspectives necessary to help
planning functions you foresee, along
with a rationale and projected dollar           Community-centered facilities planning is          everyone understand the issues, express
amount for each.                                time-consuming and challenging; leading            their views, and participate fully.
                                                such a collaborative process requires great            Ample time and a good grasp of
  Arm yourself with research and
                                                skill and commitment.                              planning are required to develop recom-
examples illustrating the positive bene-
                                                    The best candidate to guide the work           mendations that match goals, address
fits of planning, particularly in terms of
                                                should possess a strong background in              needs, and result in widespread community
improved student achievement, commu-
nity benefits, citizen support, and long-       planning; a good working knowledge of              acceptance.
term savings.                                   current educational research and best
                                                                                                           STEP 3 ACTION CHECKLIST:
                                                practices; effective communication skills
  Create a presentation for potential                                                                     IDENTIFYING A FACILITATOR
donors. Include the overall goals of the
                                                as a listener, speaker, and writer; experi-
planning process, an overview of the            ence in facilitating large group meetings;            Develop a facilitator job description.
steps involved, expected outcomes               and a demonstrated ability to build con-           Include tasks, time commitments, and
and benefits, and an itemized list of           sensus. The candidate also must be skilled         preferred qualifications, such as:
proposed expenditures.                          in analyzing and using data.                           • Strong background in facility
                                                    A good facilitator may already exist               planning
  Decide who will approach each
specific potential donor to request
                                                within the school system. If not, the                  • Solid working knowledge of
financial support. Remember that school         district should engage the services of a               current educational research and



46 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
   best practices                              • Ability to build consensus            in selecting a facilitator will likely

   • Effective communication skills as a                                               promote future support for the project.
                                              Consider the needs of your district,
   listener, speaker, and writer                                                       Moreover, such participation will
                                            assess your resources (personnel, time,
                                                                                       reflect and demonstrate a key tenet of
   • Experience and skill in facilitating   and money), and decide whether you
                                                                                       the entire facilities planning process:
   large meetings, including the ability    will select a facilitator from inside or
                                                                                       including all community interests.
   to set clear directions, remove          outside your school district.
   barriers, and recognize when to step                                                  Select the facilitator and brief him or
                                              Define the selection process.
   back and let the group's creativity                                                 her on your goals and directions and on
                                            Consider that widespread participation
   and energy flow                                                                     the work completed to date.



Photo: Digital Vision.




                                                                                               PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 47
                  STEP 4                             L.A.'s best schools come in all shapes                          STEP 5
                                                    and sizes, but they are led by people
          Assembling                                who aren't deceived about wherein lies                    Organizing
    the Core Planning Team                          the real power to create change. These              the Steering Committee
                                                    leaders build a local alliance that
                                                    empowers them to battle and break free


4
         A core planning team of about


                                                                                                    5
                                                                                                             One of the core planning team's
                                                    from the status quo. This covenant with
         a dozen experienced and respected          the community must begin in the plan-                    initial tasks will be to organize a
         leaders is needed to serve as the          ning stages for a new school; otherwise,                 steering committee. While this
leadership backbone for the project through         the bulldozers will wipe out many of            committee will vary in size according to the
to its completion.                                  the seeds of innovation.                        makeup of the community and the school
    For the team to succeed, it should                        —Reverend Phillip Lance, President,   district, it should be large enough—and
                                                                    Pueblo Nuevo Development,
include credible community members                                       Los Angeles, California    broad enough in its thinking—to repre-
who represent the full breadth of opinion                                                           sent the interests and resources of the
within the school district. The team’s                                                              entire community. Many successful
                                                        STEP 4 ACTION CHECKLIST:
primary responsibilities will include:                                                              steering committees have been comprised
                                                               ASSEMBLING
                                                                                                    of a hundred or more educators, parents,
   • Naming steering committee members                  THE CORE PLANNING TEAM
                                                                                                    students, and representatives from local
   (see Step 5)
                                                   Develop job descriptions for members             civic and business organizations.
   • Securing materials and resources            of the core planning team. Include tasks               The steering committee ultimately will
   • Forming and leading the steering            and time commitments.                              be responsible to the community for devel-
   committee                                       Identify a dozen or so key players
                                                                                                    oping the facilities master plan. Among its
                                                 in the community. Solicit suggestions for          members' most important roles will be to
   • Scheduling meetings and establishing
                                                 team members from them and a variety               serve as key communicators between the
   a reasonable timeline for completing
                                                 of other sources. Consider potential               community and the committee itself.
   the planning process
                                                 members’ commitment and leadership                 Specifically, the steering committee will
   • Constituting subcommittees, as needed       abilities as well as their standing in the         participate in each of the following activi-
                                                 community. Ensure that the planning                ties, which are discussed in the following
   • Managing the planning process
                                                 team will represent the full breadth of            section of this book as Steps 13 through 19
   between meetings of the steering
                                                 community viewpoints.                              of the facilities master planning process.
   committee
                                                   Issue personal invitations to serve on
                                                                                                       Step 13. Building common under-
   • Editing the school facilities master plan   the core planning team. Remember, a
                                                                                                       standing, shared beliefs, and collective
   • Communicating with the larger               face-to-face conversation is more effec-
                                                                                                       vision about schools and schooling
                                                 tive than a phone call, and a phone call
   community throughout the process and                                                                within the community
                                                 is more effective than a letter. As part of
   distributing the master plan when it is
                                                 your invitation, explain the purpose of               Step 14. Determining facilities-related
   completed.
                                                 the planning process and summarize the                educational and community needs
                                                 job description for team members.
A dedicated group of leaders who have                                                                  Step 15. Identifying assets and
diverse perspectives and a common com-             Bring the members of the core                       resources
mitment can implement a planning process         planning team together with the facil-
                                                 itator. Provide them with background                  Step 16. Developing specific recom-
that really makes a difference, mobilizing the
                                                 information and appropriate training in               mendations
kind of change described by Reverend
                                                 facilitation and the planning process.
Phillip Lance, member of the Los Angeles                                                               Step 17. Communicating with the larger
Unified Schools District's New Schools/                                                                community to solicit feedback and
Better Neighborhoods Advisory Committee:                                                               build consensus on recommendations


48 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
            In West Virginia, where minority populations represent a very small component
               of the total population, divisions along racial or even ethnic lines are rare.
                         Here, divisions occur along lines of family or geography.
           Geographic divisions take place between folks who live in the hills and the valleys
                or between folks who live on opposite sides of a river. In Putnam County,
            even though most of the population is on the south bank of the Kanawha River,
 it is always important to make sure that north bank residents get their equitable share of the action.
                   They represent a small but politically vocal and powerful minority.
                            —Dr. Sam Sentelle, Superintendent, Putnam County Schools, Putnam County, West Virginia




   Step 18. Creating a school facilities        facilitator and the members of the core          the committee's purpose and a summary

   master plan                                  planning team; they need to be consis-           of expectations for members.

                                                tently reinforced through training and              Send out materials in advance of
   Step 19. Supporting the plan’s
                                                vigilance.                                       the first meeting. Include pertinent
   implementation
                                                                                                 facts about the school district and its
                                                        STEP 5 ACTION CHECKLIST:                 facilities, an overview of the facilities
Key concerns for selecting steering
                                                       ORGANIZING THE STEERING                   planning process, a schedule of future
committee members include the need to
                                                                COMMITTEE                        meetings, and literature about current
reflect as many perspectives as possible,
                                                                                                 research and best practices related to
to fully represent the region's social and         Make a list of potential steering com-
                                                                                                 teaching and learning. The design prin-
ethnic diversity, and to include all geo-       mittee members who meet the three cri-
                                                                                                 ciples and descriptions of actual innova-
graphic areas in the school district.           teria of clout, commitment, and diversity.
                                                                                                 tive school designs contained herein can
     “Diversity”means different things to       Keep in mind that members should
                                                                                                 provide useful advance information.
different communities. Consider, for example,   include educators, parents, students, and
                                                representatives from local civic and busi-          Plan meetings carefully. Prepare a
the case of the Appalachian community that
                                                ness organizations within the community.         list of operating norms to guide the
is quoted at the top of this page.
                                                Consider soliciting suggestions for poten-       steering committee. Build into the
     When the objective is to achieve com-
                                                tial members from groups such as the             meeting schedule time to develop a
prehensive diversity on a single committee,
                                                PTA, the local ministerial association, and      common knowledge base, provide
it is helpful to consider community leaders                                                      training and orientation for the planning
                                                the Chamber of Commerce.
who can represent several issues or con-                                                         process, and prepare a shared mission
stituencies. Whenever a diverse group              Create a database to track members
                                                                                                 statement focused on addressing the
                                                and ensure broad representation from
comes together, disputes and disagree-                                                           district's and community's facilities needs.
                                                the outset. This database will aid com-
ments may be expected, so it is wise to
                                                munication throughout the process.
choose steering committee members who
can remain open minded and committed               Schedule an initial meeting of

to achieving community consensus and a          prospective members, issuing invitations

shared vision. From the outset, these           through personal contact or by tele-
                                                phone. Follow up with a written invita-
attributes need to be demonstrated by the
                                                tion that includes a brief statement of



                                                                                                         PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 49
                                                   Involving the Community
                                                        STEPS 6 THROUGH 12




The process of creating a school facilities     forge renewed commitment to the commu-                            STEP 6
plan should involve a shared community          nity’s schools. People tend to support what
                                                                                                         Involving Students
vision about the kinds of education its         they help create.
citizens want. By encouraging respectful            The synergy of shared decision


                                                                                                 6
                                                                                                         Ironically, students—the people
and productive communication among              making, problem solving, and goal setting                with the largest stake in education
diverse constituencies, a broad and inclu-      builds a strong foundation for collective                and those most directly affected by
sive planning process can bring about           responsibility and an enduring support           the learning environment—are the ones
results far superior to one developed by        for schools. Steps 6 through 12 of the           most frequently excluded from decisions
only educators, or architects, or any other     process—intended to involve community            regarding its design. Leaving students out
single group. Many viewpoints and multiple      interests in school facilities planning—         of the planning process is a mistake.
perspectives really are better than just a      should be undertaken concurrently.               Clearly they have a vested interest in the
few, and an inclusive planning process can




With proper facilitation and in numbers sufficient to provide adequate peer support, students can be a tremendously productive force in the
planning process. Photo: Photodisc.



50 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                Students are extraordinary teachers. They speak. They constantly tell us
         how our expectations, objectives, curriculums, and instructional strategies affect them.
        We need to look to our students to tell us why learning takes place—and why it doesn't.
              Our students are key sources for helping us identify what needs to be done....
        Often we forget to ask them, and we forget to listen to the important messages they bring.
                                      —Anthony Gregorc, as quoted in The Hero's Journey (Brown 1999)




outcome and deserve a place at the table.      with adult colleagues who are doing real        committee, teachers taught their students
Including students is not only the right       work can give them a particularly rich          how to design, draw, and create models
thing to do, it is the wise thing to do.       learning context. Not only will they be able    that they used to communicate with the
    Student participation can be valuable      to watch adults apply their skills in real-     architects designing Lincoln's new schools.
for several reasons. First, students have      world situations, they will have the chance         Finally, the community has much to
much to offer to the process. They repre-      to practice the skills themselves. Serving      gain by involving students because the
sent a pool of creativity and enthusiasm.      on the steering committee can give students     students develop an ethic of community
Young people definitely know about             the opportunity to exercise skills in           service and gain practice in caring for a
schools—how their buildings feel and           research, analysis, communication, problem      society greater than themselves. Asking
work, and how people feel and work when        solving, and collaborative teaming, all of      students to join in such a collaborative
they are in them. They often are free from     which are necessary for workplace success.      action is a critical strategy for fostering the
entrenched and typically self-defeating            Third, the facilities planning process      spirit of community for the future.
assumptions about why things are as they       can demonstrate best practices in educa-
                                                                                                  Surely it is an obligation of education
are or why they cannot be changed, and so      tion: Learning that is integrated and              in a democracy to empower the young
can be a source of refreshing ideas and        applied, where teamwork and collaborative          to become members of the public, to
innovative suggestions. With proper facili-    problem solving are the norms, and where           participate, and to play articulate roles
                                                                                                  in the public space.
tation and in numbers sufficient to provide    student work is valuable. This was the case
adequate peer support, students can be a       in Lincoln, California, where educators in                                      —Maxine Greene,
                                                                                                              The Role of Education in Democracy,
tremendously productive force in the           the Western Placer Unified School District                                            (Green 1985)
planning process.                              incorporated their planning process into the
    Second, students have much to learn        curriculum. In conjunction with their work
from the process. The chance to interact       as part of the community-based planning



    To enact change where it matters most—in the culture and instructional practices of schools—
                   we need bold action. We must build a new coalition that includes
     teachers, students, administrators, support staff, caregivers, businesses, service organizations,
            and members of local and regional communities. The times demand that we act
       in greater numbers with extraordinary vision, integrity, and caring for children we serve.
                                   We believe we are up to the task.
                                  —John L. Brown and Cerylle A. Moffett, The Hero's Journey (Brown 1999)



                                                                                                       PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 51
                  STEP 7                         answer questions, gain feedback and sug-         it has not been common. In the 1950s and
                                                 gestions, and suggest ways of helping their      1960s, an entire generation of open-plan
         Involving Parents
                                                 sons and daughters learn. Perhaps more           schools was designed and constructed
                                                 importantly, educators can become fellow         with limited input from affected teachers.


7
        As with students, parents histor-
        ically have been a greatly under-        researchers with parents, together discov-       While there may have been significant
        represented constituency in the          ering better ways to teach. This kind of re-     educational benefits in these open designs,
school design process. In fact, parents have     spectful, productive communication is likely     their potential never was realized because
perhaps been the most underutilized              to produce new ideas about school design,        they were developed apart from their
resource in American education. Three            empowering parents to become staunch             users. Changing the configuration of the
decades of research has established              allies as well as valuable contributors.         learning environment without changing the
unequivocally that parental engagement               In addition, parents' needs historically     practices of teachers and learners is like
has a significant, positive influence on stu-    have not been reflected in the design of         changing one half of an equation without
dents' academic achievement, behavior in         school buildings. There should be places         the other: The result is imbalance. With
school, and attitudes about school and           for parents to park their cars and hang          open-plan schools, balance often was
work.Yet too often parents are not included      their coats, small group areas for meeting       restored at considerable expense by modi-
as essential partners in the education of        with teachers and staff, and workspaces for      fying the facilities rather than changing
their children. Clearly, parents have a vested   parents to use computers or make phone           instructional practices.
interest in decisions about all aspects of       calls. Some recent school designs have               In recent years, many school architects
schooling, not the least of which are deci-      gone beyond these minimal accommoda-             have assumed that teachers would continue
sions about where their sons and daugh-          tions to incorporate parent centers within       to teach as they have for 30 years, organiz-
ters will spend their days. They deserve a       the building complex, thereby signaling to       ing instruction by department.The typical
place at the table from the outset of any        parents that the schoolhouse is their            result has been self-contained classroom
planning activity.                               house. They are not only welcome, but            cubicles arranged on facing sides of a
    Parent participation can lead to a           encouraged, to take an active role in the        corridor. Meanwhile, educators have been
greater shared understanding about               work of educating students.                      discovering the benefits of team teaching,
current educational theory and practice.                                                          interdisciplinary learning, and block
For some parents, there have been too few                                                         scheduling, methods which might benefit
opportunities to interact with schools in                          STEP 8                         from a different kind of classroom
meaningful roles as adults, and their per-                                                        arrangement.
                                                        Involving Educators
spectives on education end up based prin-                                                             As educators see how new and evolving
cipally on their own school experiences.                                                          technologies can enhance learning, they


                                                 8
                                                        The participation of a large contin-
When parents are included in planning as                gent of educators in the facilities       are abandoning the traditional lecture as
active participants, teachers and adminis-              planning process is critical to the       the instructional method of choice. More
trators have a chance to talk with them          success of any school design. Although the       active and effective learning strategies are
about current educational strategies,            need for participation may seem obvious,         finding favor; these involve students in
                                                                                                  cooperative group work, collaborative




                     We can no longer ignore the leadership capability of teachers—
                  the largest group of school employees and those closest to the students.
             Empowered teachers bring an enormous resource for continually improving schools.
                                     —John L. Brown and Cerylle A. Moffett, The Hero's Journey (Brown 1999)



52 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
Respectful, productive communication among parents and school planners is likely to produce new ideas about school design, empowering
parents to become staunch allies as well as valuable contributors. Photo: Photodisc.


problem solving, and projects requiring          experts and primary users, teachers—not     produce, businesses have particular needs
knowledge application (Lippman 2002;             just school administrators—must take a      and unique perspectives. Having businesses
George Lucas Educational Foundation              leading role in the process of developing   participate in your school’s design process
2003). These approaches significantly            facilities plans that support their best    tells the community that supporting
affect the kinds of spaces, furniture, and       knowledge about learning.                   schools is good business.
equipment required in a school and cannot                                                        During the past decade, many busi-
easily be accommodated by a traditional                                                      nesses have spent substantial sums re-
departmentalized, self-contained series of                        STEP 9                     structuring their work environments to
classrooms.                                                                                  reflect the new ways that people work in an
                                                         Involving Business
    Mismatches between design and use                                                        information society. This experience can
can be avoided when educators play a key                                                     inform the process of rethinking school


                                                 9
                                                          The involvement of corporations,
role in every stage of the facilities planning            businesses, and organizations      designs. A good example of the exodus
process. Now, when educational practice                   representing businesses can        from old-school business ways was the
involves a wider range of teaching and           enhance and legitimize the school           departure of Alcoa Aluminum, Inc., from a
learning strategies than ever before,            facilities planning process.As primary      gleaming tower it owned on Pittsburgh's
providing a place at the table for teachers      “customers” for the “products” schools      Golden Triangle. The company now is
in particular is critical. As practitioner


                                                                                                     PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 53
settled in a facilities complex that has a         your tasks change during the course of       model of the 1950s and 1960s.
radically different workplace design.              the day, you move from place to place,           Involvement by businesses in the plan-
                                                   gravitating naturally to the area where
                                                                                                ning process is not a one-way street,
   At Alcoa, private offices and anonymous         you can most comfortably perform the
   cubicles are a thing of the past. The           task at hand (Fandray 1999).                 benefiting only students and schools.
   emphasis now is on equality and ease of                                                      Businesses gain from the partnership
   communication…. Alcoa’s design phi-          Such changes in the design of corporate         because educational programs and envi-
   losophy is emblematic of a new aware-
                                                America are widespread. Companies as            ronments that create better-prepared stu-
   ness that the physical nature of the work-
   place does affect the way we do busi-        diverse as Citibank, Hewlett-Packard, and       dents can save them thousands of dollars
   ness…. The idea is that we're reducing       Boeing are embracing an expanded view of        in training costs. Businesses obtain more
   the amount of space individuals receive,     space as it relates to the work people do.      immediate benefits from their involvement
   and we're reallocating that space to a
                                                Business leaders can help effect similar        in schools as well. The quality of local
   much wider variety of places where peo-
   ple can interact—break areas, meeting        changes in learning environments for            schools is an important consideration for
   areas, team areas, and so on. The indi-      students by helping communities to              potential employees as they consider
   vidual workstation, then, becomes little     perceive and understand the work world. It      whether to relocate in order to accept a job
   more than a place to hang your hat.As
                                                is a world far different from the factory       offer. For this reason, employers want high




Because of their sheer numbers, retirees will have great influence on public expenditures in coming years. Community leaders in some areas
are thinking long term, and recognizing that planning and designing new schools as community learning centers provides an opportunity to
forge an intergenerational coalition of support. Photo: Photodisc.



54 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                               The schools should be centers of...neighborhoods
             and take advantage of library bonds, recreation and park bonds, and health dollars
               to serve kids in more efficient and productive ways for the twenty-first century.
                            —David Abel, Managing Director, New Schools/Better Neighborhoods, Los Angeles California




quality schools in order to attract a high       competition would be for community lead-                          STEP 11
quality workforce (Bond 1998).                   ers to think long-term and recognize that
                                                                                                           Involving
    With such a vested interest in the           planning and designing new schools as
                                                                                                    Community Organizations
quality of education, business leaders are       community learning centers provides an
uniquely positioned to catalyze educational      opportunity to forge an intergenerational
                                                                                                    and Government Agencies
improvements by taking their place at the        coalition of support.


                                                                                                  11
                                                                                                                Cultural and civic institutions
table in the school facility planning process.       The efforts of school officials to build a
                                                                                                                can be important partners in
                                                 new school in Gaylord, Michigan, is a case
                                                                                                                planning school facilities.
                                                 in point (see Case Study 1). After senior
                                                                                                  When organizations such as museums,
                 STEP 10                         citizens there had helped to defeat two
                                                                                                  libraries, zoos, parks, and hospitals join
                                                 bond referendums for a new school, school
   Involving Senior Citizens                                                                      forces with schools, a community can
                                                 and community leaders began a community
                                                                                                  leverage these resources to enhance
                                                 planning process that for the first time


10
               The design and planning of                                                         student learning. The partnerships foster
               new schools should reflect        included them. Seniors were particularly
                                                                                                  connections that increase institutional
               two new realities: the need       eager for Gaylord to have a performing arts
                                                                                                  support at many levels.
for life-long learning to keep citizens          center. The decision by school officials to
                                                                                                      The Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn,
employed, productive, and engaged, and           incorporate a performing arts center into
                                                                                                  Michigan (see Case Study 11), exemplifies
the coming demographic change, as the            the new school was a key factor in winning
                                                                                                  such a partnership. It has enjoyed wide-
baby boom generation begins to retire.           the public support to pass the bond the
                                                                                                  ranging benefits, including significant sav-
Beginning in 2011, the first wave of the 80      third time it was presented.
                                                                                                  ings in capital costs through the mutual
million Americans born between 1946 and              There are many reasons why senior
                                                                                                  use of existing facilities. Minnesota's
1964 will retire. The number of citizens         citizens should be involved in the planning
                                                                                                  School of Environmental Studies (see Case
over age 65 will more than double from 30        process and why new schools should be
                                                                                                  Study 13) illustrates another creative use of
million to 70 million over the next 25 years     built with senior citizens in mind. Ending
                                                                                                  community resources. It was built on zoo
(Sullivan 2002).                                 the unhealthy age segregation that pervades
                                                                                                  grounds through a partnership among
     Because of their sheer numbers,             American society and giving students more
                                                                                                  Independent School District 196, the city
retirees will have great influence on public     adult connections is one reason to involve
                                                                                                  of Apple Valley, and the Minnesota Zoo.
expenditures. Concerns about the rising          seniors. Keeping seniors healthy and active
                                                                                                  Each of the 400 students at this alternative
costs of health care could lead to competi-      is another.“It makes little sense for public
                                                                                                  high school has his or her own computer
tion for scarce public dollars. Senior citi-     officials to spend millions of taxpayer
                                                                                                  work station, is a member of a ten-person
zens whose children are grown may see            dollars to build state-of-the-art schools with
                                                                                                  team, and conducts projects using the zoo as
little reason to support bond issues for         computer labs, gyms, swimming pools, and
                                                                                                  a living laboratory.
school construction when they are more           other recreational facilities for students,
                                                                                                      In other communities across the country,
concerned about health care expenses.            then deny their use to community residents,
                                                                                                  school-to-work programs have created
     An alternative to this scenario of          including seniors, because they are not
                                                                                                  opportunities for students to apply their
                                                 school age” (Sullivan 2002).


                                                                                                          PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 55
   When you feel you have a stake in your school, whether you're a teacher or a student or a parent,
you're willing to work harder, make sacrifices, and protect and build up your highly personal investment.
                —Seymour Fliegel and James MacGuire, Miracle in East Harlem: The Fight for Choice in Public Education (Fliegel 1993)




learning in government, recreation, health-          the importance of the relationship among         sessions. In others, the board may appoint
care, and other community settings. By shift-        school officials, law enforcement, and com-      a liaison to the steering committee or
ing appropriate programs off-site, the school        munity safety personnel as well as the           choose to hear only periodic progress
districts in these communities have been             correlation between school design and            reports and wait to act upon recommenda-
able to increase their capacity significantly.       effective security. The eyes and ears of         tions from the committee.
    Such joint ventures can lead to more             professionals specifically trained to notice         Whatever involvement it chooses, the
intelligent and efficient use of dollars, space,     safety features can be invaluable to the         school board's attention is critical and
personnel, and expertise. By harnessing a            process of designing schools.                    requires each member to be fully informed
community's resources to a common vision                 Even when planning and architecture          throughout the planning process. To this
for the future—one in which schools play a           firms employ their own safety and security       end, school board workshops should be
central role, everyone stands to benefit,            experts, engaging police and fire officials      held at regular intervals to review the
especially young people.                             makes sense, since they will be charged          steering committee's work and consider
    In Los Angeles, citizens who have                with helping maintain school and student         policy and budget issues related to the
formed the organization New Schools/                 safety long after the planners and archi-        committee's goals and recommendations.
Better Neighborhoods recognize the power             tects have completed their work.                     As with the school board, the superin-
of such an approach:                                                                                  tendent and other school district officials
                                                                                                      have critical leadership functions to fulfill.
   All levels of government should work
   together to build the best schools in                              STEP 12                         Unlike board members, district officials
   the best locations that we can—                                                                    cannot chose whether to be actively
   coordinating our efforts and leveraging
                                                                Involving
                                                                                                      engaged in the facilities planning process;
   our resources to make our school sites                 the School Board and                        their involvement is vital. They must be
   not only centers for education, but for               District Administration
   reading and research as libraries, for                                                             skilled listeners and articulate communi-
   health care as clinics, and as epicenters                                                          cators. They must be facilitators of under-


                                                     12
                                                                   The sanction of the school
   of civic life in their communities.                                                                standing and disseminators of informa-
                                                                   board is vital to the success of
                               —Zev Yaroslavsky,                                                      tion. They must be effective consensus
          Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors,                 any school facilities planning
                           Los Angeles, California
                                                                                                      builders and good decision makers. They
                                                     process. Board members can use their
                                                                                                      must be able to empower others and use
                                                     power and influence to bring the right
Law enforcement and fire departments are                                                              their own power wisely. Most importantly,
                                                     players to the table, create the best possible
two additional government entities that                                                               they must be willing and able to serve as
                                                     conditions for action, and leverage the
need to be included in the school facilities                                                          stewards of a collective vision and to be
                                                     necessary resources to support the plan-
design process from the outset. Too often                                                             visionaries themselves.
                                                     ning process.
in the past, local police and fire officials
                                                         The school board's involvement will
have been brought in for oversight and
                                                     vary from one community to the next. In
building permitting only after the design
                                                     some cases, a board member may become
process was well under way. Lessons from
                                                     active on the core planning team and
incidents of campus violence underscore
                                                     participate in all steering committee



56 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                                     Developing and Implementing a Master Plan
                                                       STEPS 13 THROUGH 19




Once the organizational preliminaries and        district’s educational needs and resources,      master plan and include suggestions for
community liaison considerations have            and then articulate their agreements as a        implementation. These activities are dis-
been completed, the real work of developing      set of statements known as shared beliefs.       cussed in the following pages as Steps 13
a school facilities master plan begins.          Taken together, the common understand-           through 19.
    Throughout this process, the steering        ings and shared beliefs comprise a collec-           It is tempting to portray the facilities
committee will typically meet once a             tive vision that addresses the question,         planning process as simple and straightfor-
month in a comfortable space large enough        “What will our educational system look           ward, but that would be misleading. The
for the whole group, followed by break-out       like in the future?”                             process may prove at times to be challenging
sessions.                                            The steering committee will also develop     and time-consuming because it involves
    As meetings progress, participants will      a list of facilities needs, make specific        many people and diverse opinions. The end
complete several work products. They will        recommendations, and seek community              result, however, will be a purposeful plan for
amass a common understanding of the              consensus. Finally, it will write a facilities   the future of the school district.


As the facilities planning process moves forward, the steering committee will typically present overviews and findings to the whole planning
group. The small-group break-out sessions that follow afford an opportunity for each person’s opinions and creative ideas to be heard and
considered. Photo: Photodisc.




                                                                                                              PART ONE: THE CHALLENGE 57
                 STEP 13                         Participants can begin by studying com-           data, the committee will be able to create a
                                                 munity demographic studies, summaries             school and community profile that
      Building Common
                                                 of student achievement data, and district-        includes general characteristics, strengths,
    Understanding, Shared
                                                 wide strategic plans. They can review base        limitations, and emerging issues.
    Beliefs, and a Collective                    documents that govern the education of                While developing the knowledge base,
              Vision                             their young people, including learning            the steering committee should consider
                                                 goals, graduation requirements and state          not only present conditions, but future pos-


13
             The steering committee’s
                                                 and national standards. This is also a good       sibilities. This will require examination of
             first task is to develop a
                                                 opportunity to survey the attitudes and           current research and best practices in three
             common knowledge base.
                                                 perspectives of the community. Using such         areas: effective schools and instructional



The collective vision of citizens in San Diego’s City Heights area has resulted in a comprehensive approach to community redevelopment. This
community center is part of a 30-acre “urban village” that includes residential housing, a continuing education center, a Head Start facility, a
library, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a performance annex, and recreational fields. Three schools are an integral part of the effort; see Case
Study 4. Photo: Joseph Martinez, courtesy of Martinez+Cutri Architects.




58 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
practices; the implication of future trends     needs. Their purposes will be better served     a “future focus” by reviewing:

for students; and changing expectations in      in the long run, however, if they take time        • Current research and best practices
the workplace. The committee may also           to agree upon some conclusions regarding           on effective schools
profit from visiting other facilities in        the knowledge base. Such conclusions               • Future trends and potential impli-
school districts where educators and citi-      should result in written statements of             cations for students, schools, and
zens have reinvented their institutions to      shared beliefs, which can be reviewed by           communities
meet changing societal needs.                   the larger community. These statements             • Changing workplace needs and
    The time spent developing a future          form the foundation for the committee’s            expectations
focus is essential. Otherwise, analysis of      collective vision of the kind of educational       • Innovative models from other
existing conditions may bog down in             system they want for their community.              districts and communities
entrenched ideas. When the operable                 The importance of putting into writing
                                                                                                  Develop statements of shared belief
assumption is that new or renovated             such a collective vision cannot be over-
                                                                                                about education and the role of schools
spaces will be used in the same ways that       emphasized. The existence of this docu-         in the community. Begin with the six
spaces have been used in the past, facilities   ment will help to ensure that the final         design principles presented in this book
planning tends to focus more on structural      school facilities plan is customized to         and consider preparing examples of
requirements, code compliance, and mech-        address specific identified goals, rather       more concise belief statements, such as:
anical systems than on planning for a           than being a one-size-fits-all blueprint.          • Students need opportunities to
future that includes emerging technologies,     Most importantly, by establishing common           apply their learning in meaningful
curricular changes, and new strategies for      ground at this point in the process, the           ways.
educational delivery.                           steering committee members pave the way            • Positive relationships are key to good
    As the knowledge base is being devel-       for the kind of respectful discussion and          learning and strong communities.
oped, two effective information-sharing         collaborative problem solving that will be         • All members of the community
techniques for the committee are large-         required to successfully complete the facili-      need access to technological tools for
group presentations and small-group             ties master planning process.                      learning.
discussions. Large-group presentations                                                             • The community is a critical educa-
                                                       STEP 13 ACTION CHECKLIST:
offer an efficient means for exploring                                                             tional partner.
                                                BUILDING COMMON UNDERSTANDING,
current research and best practices, while
                                                           SHARED BELIEFS, AND                     • To be successful in the workplace,
the small-group break-outs provide an                                                              students must be both self-directed
                                                           A COLLECTIVE VISION
opportunity for each person’s opinions and                                                         workers and good team members.
creative ideas to be heard and considered.        Develop a common understanding                   • Lifelong learning is a desired and
The facilitator plays an important organi-      and clear picture about current condi-             necessary strategy for survival in
zational role. He or she assembles impor-       tions by reviewing:                                today's world.
tant information for the larger group to           • Community demographic studies
                                                                                                  Craft a collective vision that reflects
review, arranging for presentations by such
                                                   • District-wide strategic or facilities      shared beliefs, and put this collective
professional advisors as architects, school        plans                                        vision into writing. As a group, answer
planners, curriculum designers, and other
                                                   • Learning goals, student achieve-           this question: What will our educational
specialists; he or she also fosters condi-                                                      system look like when we “get there”?
                                                   ment data, and graduation
tions that encourage meaningful small-             requirements
group information exchange.
                                                   • State and national standards
    Once satisfied that the knowledge base
                                                   • Community attitudes and
has been established, steering committee
                                                   perspectives
members may be tempted to begin brain-
storming and making lists of facilities           Consider “what could be” and develop




                                                                                                       PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 59
                 STEP 14                         community—then other needs will                     Opposite: Steering committee members
                                                                                                     need to think outside the box as they
                                                 become apparent.
          Determining                                                                                identify potential resources. Schools have
                                                                                                     partnered with such local organizations as
        Educational Needs                           We assumed at the beginning of our               zoos, parks, museums, and recreation
                                                    steering committee meetings that high            centers to expand the educational experi-
                                                                                                     ence. Photo: Digital Vision.
                                                    schools were for high school students


14
               Once the collective vision has
                                                    and teachers. But as we began to edu-
               been successfully written,           cate ourselves, we learned that our
               steering committee members           facility could be designed for the whole
                                                                                                            STEP 14 ACTION CHECKLIST:
will be ready—and probably eager—to                 community, not just the students, to
                                                    use. Before long, we were talking with a                       DETERMINING
draft a wish list. For such a list to advance
                                                    local group that was trying to raise                       EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
the planning process, it must be framed in          money for a performing arts center but
terms of facilities needs. The list should be       was far from reaching their goal. They             Starting with shared beliefs and a
thoughtful, strategic, and focused on the           loved the idea of joining forces with the        collective vision, develop a list of
future.                                             high school to become a community
                                                                                                     facilities needs. To guide this process,
                                                    center. Other members of the commu-
    Facilities needs, of course, can be wide-       nity were interested in trying to find a         consider the following questions: What
ranging. They can encompass issues as               place to hold community meetings.                will we need to do to enact our beliefs

simple as air conditioning in every class-          With the community and the high                  about schooling and our vision of

room, or as ambitious as elementary                 school collaborating in this new way, we         schools? What kinds of facilities will we
                                                    were able to win state funds for a per-          need to accomplish these activities?
schools with no more than 300 students.             forming arts council. Eventually we
                                                                                                     What kinds of learning environments
    An imperative goal at this point is             built our school and our new “town
                                                                                                     will we need to:
making sure that the facilities needs listed        square.” It includes a performing arts
by the steering committee are consistent            center and a community meeting hall                 • Help students see links between
                                                    for weddings and meetings and—you                   school and the rest of their lives
with the written statements of shared belief        name it. The kids say they like having
that the committee drafted in Step 13 of                                                                • Increase parent and community
                                                    more grown-ups around.
                                                                                                        participation in schools
this process.                                            —Rilla Wiley, Steering Committee Member,
    For instance, if the steering committee                         Tishomingo County, Mississippi      • Improve coordination among schools

has written as one of its shared beliefs that                                                           and other social service agencies

students “need opportunities to engage in        When schools are envisioned as centers for             • Provide stimulating, lifelong

project-based learning and to work in            the entire community, a whole range of                 educational opportunities

teams,” then spaces other than the typical       possibilities emerges, along with new sets
                                                                                                       When developing the list of needs,
900-square-foot lecture classrooms will be       of needs. If, for instance, the steering com-
                                                                                                     think both specifically and collectively.
required. If a shared belief has stated that     mittee’s collective vision calls for schools        Consider the needs of specific groups,
“the most effective schools embody a             that are “a resource for lifelong learning”—        such as students or parents or the busi-
strong culture of personalization,” then         for retraining dislocated workers, teaching         ness sector. At the same time, consider

more configurations that serve small             computer skills to seniors, teaching fami-          the collective needs of the whole

groups will have to be designed. If a shared     lies to use the internet, or any number of          community.

belief has stated that “parent involvement       other community learning endeavors—
                                                                                                       Frame the list of needs in language
on school campuses is important,” then           then school facilities will need to be open         that directly links them to your shared
schools will need spaces for parents to          beyond conventional school hours.                   beliefs and collective vision.
park their cars, hang their coats, meet with         When listing facilities needs, the steering
teachers, or help with school activities. If a   committee should think globally about
shared belief has stated that “schools           conditions within the community, and
should be centers of learning for the whole      specifically about conditions in classrooms
community”—as it did in one Mississippi          and schools.


60 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
                 STEP 15                         community, the steering committee can con-       both communities and students in more
                                                 sult everything from the Yellow Pages to real    efficient and productive ways. Still others
      Identifying Resources
                                                 estate listings, calendars of cultural activi-   have explored creative leasing, shared- and
                                                 ties, and directories of local businesses.       multiple-use agreements, interagency


15
               At the same time the steering
               committee is analyzing facility   When teachers, students, parents, and busi-      contracts, or revenue-generating projects.
               needs, it should also be con-     ness representatives work together to dis-           In his exploration of the hidden assets
sidering resources available to meet those       cover and identify community assets, they        of Los Angeles, UCLA Professor Richard
needs. Many such resources will already be       not only increase their personal under-          Weinstein illustrates such outside-the-box
on hand at existing schools. Others may          standing but help develop a valuable public      thinking about opportunities for joint use:
be located within the larger community. It is    knowledge base about the community.
                                                                                                     Some of the biggest holes in the fabric
important that the steering committee con-           Steering committee members need to              of the city are supermarket and shop-
sider both internal and external resources       think outside the box as they identify              ping mall parking lots, which rank high
                                                 potential resources. Examples abound of             on the mess list. The air rights over
as potential solutions.
                                                                                                     parking lots could be acquired for
    To identify resources at existing            instances where unconventional thinking
                                                                                                     schools, community centers, and addi-
school sites, the steering committee should      has yielded creative solutions. Some school         tional parking. The commercial enter-
review the district's facilities evaluation      districts have financed projects through            prises would be advantaged, day-care
                                                 private-sector investment—or public-                and other services provided, and the
report, if such a document is available. If
                                                                                                     urban design of the area improved.
not, the committee should consider con-          private partnership—when traditional
                                                                                                     Joint development of this sort should
ducting such an evaluation itself (a time-       methods of funding like local property              be encouraged from the start where
consuming endeavor) or commissioning             taxes have proved ineffective or insuffi-           thoughtful design can solve the addi-
                                                 cient. Others have learned how to take              tional density resulting from mixed
experts to do so.
                                                                                                     commercial and educational uses.
    To identify resources within the larger      advantage of library bonds, recreation and
                                                 park bonds, and health dollars to serve


                                                                                                         PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 61
         STEP 15 ACTION CHECKLIST:               said “students need opportunities to              Check steering committee recommen-
          IDENTIFYING RESOURCES                  engage in project-based learning and work       dations to ensure that they are specific

                                                 in teams,” and the collective vision called     and consistent with the collective vision.
   Review the school district’s facilities                                                       Assess whether they harness resources in
                                                 for “spaces different from existing tradi-
evaluation report, if one exists, or                                                             the best way to meet community needs.
                                                 tional classrooms,” the resulting recom-
consider commissioning one, to identify
                                                 mendation might specify “remodeling               Compile facilities recommendations
resources available at existing school
sites.
                                                 existing classrooms to include additional       into a report that can be easily under-

                                                 square footage, more storage, and appro-        stood and readily shared.
   Identify other significant private
                                                 priate utilities.” As another example, if the
or public resources. To guide the
                                                 committee has listed the need for a com-
discovery process, consider the following
                                                 munity performing arts center and identi-                        STEP 17
questions: What kinds of support for
                                                 fied a school space that could be modified             Communicating
learning do students receive beyond the
                                                 to meet this need, the specific recommen-
classroom and school? What community                                                              with the Larger Community
resources are available that might be            dation might be to “remodel the school's
                                                 performing arts facility to provide direct


                                                                                                 17
employed to support the school district                                                                         The steering committee
and its students?                                street access, appropriate security, and                       should have maintained open
                                                 adequate parking.”                                             communications about the
   Identify and create a list of the
                                                     The best recommendations will be            facilities planning process throughout its
community's available resources.
                                                 specific and creative, they will refer to one   duration.
   Consider and explore innovative
                                                 or more of the steering committee's shared          Once the recommendations report has
partnerships, creative financing, and
                                                 beliefs, and they will be consistent with the   been issued, however, the steering committee
interagency relationships.
                                                 collective vision. Recommendations may          will need to embark upon a deliberate and
                                                 also be prioritized at this point and should    strategic effort to publicize the report’s
                                                 take the form of a report.                      contents and rationale. The goal of this
                 STEP 16
                                                                                                 publicity is to foster community under-
                                                        STEP 16 ACTION CHECKLIST:
            Developing                                                                           standing of the recommendations, solicit
                                                                DEVELOPING
         Recommendations                                   STEERING COMMITTEE
                                                                                                 feedback about them, and build community
                                                           RECOMMENDATIONS
                                                                                                 consensus.



16
               After the steering committee                                                          Steering committee recommendations
               has identified facilities needs     Develop a list of recommendations             should be communicated in ways that are
               and identified available          that is consistent with the knowledge           easy to understand and readily accessible.
resources, its next task is to prepare written   base, shared beliefs, facilities needs, and     News releases, newspaper articles, radio
facilities recommendations that match            identified resources.                           spots and television features can be used
available resources to identified needs.                                                         for getting the word out. Creative publicity
                                                   In developing recommendations,
Guiding questions for this phase of the                                                          ideas are in order. In Puyallup, Washington,
                                                 consider these questions: How can the
work include: How can the school district        school district and community work              for example, the school facilities steering
and community work together most effec-          together most effectively to address            committee decided to publish Building
tively to realize their collective vision for    limitations and areas of need to realize        Traditions, a quarterly newsletter explicitly
schools? In what ways can the school             their collective vision for schools? In         for this purpose.
district and community combine forces to         what ways can the school district and               A plan for working with the local media
build on their strengths?                        community combine forces to build
                                                                                                 is a good idea and should acknowledge
    To revisit an example cited in Step 14,      upon their strengths?
                                                                                                 that media interest depends on newswor-
if the steering committee’s stated belief                                                        thiness and understandability. Research


62 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
and recommendations can be brought to       mindful that communication with the              decision points and bring back to steering
life with examples and anecdotes. A         public at this point is intended as a two-way    committee meetings community input. In
trained communications consultant can       street: Part of the purpose is solicitation of   addition, the steering committee can hold
help to package steering committee infor-   community feedback. To facilitate two-way        workshops with the school board or indi-
mation into engaging media messages.        communication, committee members must            vidual school site councils, host coffee
     The steering committee should remain   report to their constituencies at critical       hours or town meetings, conduct surveys
                                                                                             at shopping malls, implement phone trees,
                                                                                             create speakers bureaus, and develop its
                                                                                             own website and listserv.
                                                                                                 Whatever outreach methods it employs,
                                                                                             the steering committee should strive for a
                                                                                             communications process that deals with
                                                                                             community opinion and feedback respect-
                                                                                             fully, openly, and honestly. Putting the
                                                                                             Pieces Together recommends four proactive
                                                                                             efforts for ensuring such productive
                                                                                             communication and for helping to build
                                                                                             productive partnerships (U.S. Department
                                                                                             of Education and the Regional Educational
                                                                                             Laboratory Network 1996):

                                                                                                • Reach out to your critics by inviting
                                                                                                them to see a new program, listening to
                                                                                                their concerns, and providing opportu-
                                                                                                nities for them to contribute.

                                                                                                • Develop good written communica-
                                                                                                tions, such as a low-cost newsletter
                                                                                                widely distributed throughout the
                                                                                                community.

                                                                                                • Keep participants and local leaders
                                                                                                informed by hosting an open house or
                                                                                                site visit.

                                                                                                • Share the bottom line to show
                                                                                                that collaborative programs are cost
                                                                                                effective and get results.


                                                                                             Once the recommendations report has been
                                                                                             issued, the steering committee will need to
                                                                                             embark upon a deliberate and strategic
                                                                                             effort to publicize the report’s contents and
                                                                                             rationale. The goal of this publicity is to
                                                                                             foster community understanding of the
                                                                                             recommendations, solicit feedback about
                                                                                             them, and build community consensus.
                                                                                             Photo: Brand X Pictures.




                                                                                                    PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 63
       STEP 17 ACTION CHECKLIST:                                STEP 18                        this information—along with work prod-
            COMMUNICATING                                                                      ucts from Steps 13 through 17—into one
    WITH THE LARGER COMMUNITY
                                                    Creating a Master Plan
                                                                                               document, the final facilities master plan.
                                                                                               Preparation of the final document may


                                                18
  Establish a comprehensive communi-
                                                               The facilities master plan is
                                                               the culmination of all the      require the aid of school district officials or
cations plan for disseminating and
                                                               steps that have come before.    school planning consultants, along with
collecting information.
                                                    Before compiling the work products         good editorial, graphic design, and printing
  Consider creating a special steering
                                                generated by Steps 13 through 17, however,     support.Various feasibility, cost, and other
committee newsletter or publishing
                                                the steering committee must carefully          studies may be needed to supplement the
regular updates in existing district and
                                                assess community feedback received             master plan. These are normally prepared
community newsletters.
                                                during Step 17 and make any adjustments        by school district officials, appropriate gov-
  Decide how to involve the local                                                              ernmental agencies, or school planning
                                                to the plan that it deems appropriate.
media (newspaper, radio, community                                                             consultants.
                                                    That done, the committee should define
websites, and television).
                                                action steps, determine timelines, and             Ultimately, the completed facilities
  Make sure outreach efforts are                assign responsibilities for achieving its      master plan should be submitted to the
inclusive enough to encompass a broad           recommendations. It should then prioritize     school board for approval.
spectrum of stakeholders. Use such                                                                 Then the steering committee should
                                                the recommendations, if this was not done
strategies as conducting workshops,                                                            take time to celebrate its accomplishments!
                                                during Step 16.
hosting coffee hours, convening town
                                                    Finally, the committee should compile
meetings, conducting surveys in public
places, implementing phone trees,
creating speakers' bureaus, and hosting
a special website or listserv.

  Develop a system for listening,
recording, and responding to people's
feedback.

  Consider engaging the services of
a media consultant to manage the
communications aspect of the planning
process.

  Keep in mind that the three primary
purposes of any communications plan
should be to create common understand-
ing, gather feedback to help identify
further improvement opportunities, and
build community consensus.



The completion and approval of a master
plan will normally lead to the preparation of
educational specifications, a final architec-
tural design, and construction plans and
specifications. The process of community
engagement should continue at each step.
Photo: Photodisc.




64 SCHOOLS AS CENTERS OF COMMUNITY: A CITIZEN’S GUIDE FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN
      STEP 18 ACTION CHECKLIST:                     Recognizing that it will take months or         helping to devise creative solutions and
       CREATING A MASTER PLAN                  years before construction work is completed,         moving the construction project to
                                               many steering committees choose to stay in           completion.
  Based upon the feedback received
                                               place throughout the process.When they do,               When occupancy of the completed
during the communications phase, make
                                               their focus will naturally shift to the new          project has been achieved at last, the steer-
necessary modifications to steering
                                               and equally critical tasks of tracking               ing committee should undertake one more
committee recommendations.
                                               progress and assisting the school board in           task: a retrospective examination of the
  Priority rank the recommendations.
                                               its implementation tasks. This is what hap-          planning process. It should assess to what
  Identify action steps and determine          pened in Lincoln, California:                        extent the planning process has strength-
timelines, resources, and the assignment                                                            ened the community, wisely allocated
                                                  We knew it would take years to imple-
of responsibilities for achieving                                                                   resources, and positively affected teaching
                                                  ment every recommendation on the
recommendations.                                  master plan.... We decided to incorpo-            and learning. Those engaged in planning
                                                  rate as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organ-         have too often failed to address this
  Draft a master plan.
                                                  ization. Before long, a local developer
                                                                                                    question: What specific benefits resulted
  Submit the master plan to the school            gave us a parcel of 179 acres of land
                                                  worth about $1.8 million dollars. Next            from the actions that were taken and the
district or other appropriate agencies
                                                  week we will hold a groundbreaking                dollars that were spent?
for supplementary feasibility, cost, or
                                                  ceremony for an Outdoor Learning                      By documenting results, the steering
other studies.
                                                  Environment (OLE) on that land, which
                                                                                                    committee can evaluate its efforts, demon-
  Edit the master plan and prepare it             includes a Native American archeo-
                                                  logical site. We also have plans to               strate accountability, and add to a growing
for publication.
                                                  expand arts in the schools and child-             body of knowledge that connects the facilities
  Present the finalized master plan to            care before and after school. We have             planning process to favorable academic
the school board for approval.                    set up a subcommittee to focus on
                                                                                                    outcomes and community growth.
                                                  grant writing to support these new
  Celebrate the completion of a major             ideas. Our job is to serve as community
                                                                                                           STEP 19 ACTION CHECKLIST:
milestone in the planning process.                support group for the school board.
                                                  Through our “Project Build” master                              IMPLEMENTING
                                                  planning process, we have developed a                          THE MASTER PLAN
                                                  deeper level of trust and empowered
                   STEP 19                        each other to make things happen. We                Determine how to maintain the
                                                  haven't abandoned our existing schools
           Implementing                           just yet, but our plan is to keep the
                                                                                                    community’s interest in bringing about
                                                                                                    faithful implementation of the master plan.
          the Master Plan                         planning process alive and continue to
                                                  search for opportunities to integrate               Discuss with steering committee
                                                  our learning with the world around us.


19
              Completing a master plan is a                                                         members what they might do during
              cause for celebration because                            —Joanne Neft, President,     the implementation phase, such as sup-
                                                           Western Placer Education Foundation,
              the steering committee has                                                            port a bond campaign, develop school-
                                                                  Western Placer School District,
accomplished its primary mission.                                            Lincoln, California    community partnerships, or participate

    But implementing the plan—moving                                                                in an ongoing oversight effort.

from vision to action—will be its true test.   Provided that funding is in place to imple-
                                                                                                      Develop ways to assess the effect of
Exciting plans are not enough. The hard        ment the community’s vision, the comple-             the planning on academic outcomes,
work of the master plan will not be benefi-    tion and approval of a master plan will              resource allocation, and community
cial unless the plan is implemented.           normally lead to the preparation of educa-           growth.

Everyone involved in the planning process      tional specifications, a final architectural
                                                                                                      Give the plan time. Remember that
must understand that implementation            design, and construction plans and specifi-
                                                                                                    implementation will not happen
requires time, commitment, and oversight.      cations. The process of community
                                                                                                    overnight.
                                               engagement should continue at each step,


                                                                                                            PART FOUR: MAKING IT HAPPEN 65

				
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