Future Facilities Steering Team Final Recommendations posted

The Future Facilities Steering Team Final Recommendations posted have been posted on boardDocs in preparation for the May 13th BOE meeting. And I daresay, the new board sounds like they are ready to shake a leaf or two. 🙂


Final Board Presentation_FINAL_05102013_amg.pdf (2,495 KB)

Recommendation_Worksheet_FINAL_05102013_amg.pdf (1,059 KB)


19 Responses to “Future Facilities Steering Team Final Recommendations posted”

  1. G. David Frye Says:

    I’ve wrestled a long time with what it means to have a K-8 school option. After all the discussion, I just don’t get it.

    Take the proposal as it stands, to turn Barkstall into a 3-strand K-8 school, by adding enough additional classroom space. That would give you a 6-8 grade population of maybe 200 children, at most. So do you call that a fourth middle school, in terms of programming? Do the 6-8 graders at Barkstall go to other middle schools for programs that are more difficult to support with a small population? Does the district just absorb the cost of providing staffing for those activities, even though they are less efficiently employed?

    Here is a partial list of programs that are offered in our middle schools:

    * concert band and orchestra as academic classes 6-8 grade
    * foreign language (spanish, french, sometimes german) 7-8 grade
    * accelerated math 6-8 grade, including an 8th grade class that is taught high school freshman geometry for high school credit
    * theatrical performance
    * boys & girls cross-country
    * boys’ baseball, basketball, and wrestling
    * girls’ volleyball and basketball

    Again, I’m probably forgetting stuff. But turn the list above into a staff and facilities manifest and I’m left with the distinct impression that kids in this K-8 track are getting shorted on the opportunities that the three existing middle schools provide.

    The cynicist in me wonders if the small group of perennial K-8 proponents are just taking advantage of the likelihood that our 3 existing middle schools will reach maximum capacity. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to try to preserve the richness of our middle school program by concentrating on modest expansion of the existing middle school facilities?

  2. pattsi Says:

    Just want to share a publication that may be useful as people move forward on the school siting and configuration decisions. I have a publication titled, Planning Active Communities, edited by Marya Morris. This is a publication of the American Planning Association within the Planning Advisory Service. This is report #543/544, Available in the UIUC urban planning library now housed in the ACES Library

    The chapter titled the ABC’s of Creating and Preserving Accessible Community Schools contain so much pertinent information, especially the section titled, Minimum acreage standards. Here is a useful quote from this section:

    “In the1940’s, the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI) first published guidelines suggesting minimum acreages fo school sites. According to CEFPI, rather than being based on any formula or rational, the guidelines were based on an informal survey of its membership at the time. It should be noted that CEFPI does not (and never has) set standards tht schools must use…….Planners should be aware that a 2004 revision of CEFPI’s influential Guide for Planning Educational Facilities no longer contains minimum acreage for school sites.”

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    @G David: good points. I wonder, what if parents actually do not mind the lack of such features? I believe the strength of a K-8 is in building a strong community and a significant reduction in transitions. Is it possible that some students (and thereby, some families) would benefit more from such a configuration, even after figuring in the consequences of reduced benefits? No doubt, a fully implemented K-8 would indeed necessitate structural and curriculum adaptions.

    @Pattsi: for the sake of readers who may not quite grasp the context that a planner naturally has, can you elaborate a little on how exactly those resources would be useful? It almost sounds an overly simplistic summary is “there are no standards for minimum acreage – just figure it out.”

    I have heard several folks talk about a Country Fair site for the high school, but I do not see that mentioned as a possibility at all (even though all the fringe sites and some of the “in-fill” sites are). Just curious.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Looking at the presentation itself, I am wondering about the Bristol Place slide (slide 22). The map looks very much like a map Chuck Jackson gave to Dr. Wiegand last week. 🙂 However, the previous slide just has a list of 5 negative things; no positives whatsoever? And what if the early warning flags about Human Kinetics fiscal health open up opportunities in the future? I do see Country Fair listed; I am glad that someone is looking over these other ideas that were not that obvious during the Future Facilities discussions. And I like the “Interior Site” focus.

  5. pattsi Says:

    Charles, I posted that short quote with the hope that this might move everyone–citizens and Unit 4 administration–from quoting that “X” number of acres are need for “Y” type of school as if there is research data backing the statement. This is not the case. At a point in time I heard a parent question the acreage figures by stating what if we lived in NY. Clearly the statements as standards do not work in NYC where things are land locked. Just because this is not the case here does not mean that the decision needs to be driven to the perimeter. Second, I posted the quote hoping that some one would check out the publication from the library and read it. It is not available for non APA members electronically.
    As to some of the other key points in the chapter:
    History of USA schools and neighborhood design and how that concept got lost to “bigger is better”
    Changing trend in school design and size and realization that this movement is not the best
    Policies that favor new construction over renovation
    Lack of coordination between school facility planning and land-use planning
    Separation of school siting decisions from long-term transportation cost
    Biased funding rules
    Children’s health issues
    Dwindling funding for busing
    School facility planning and enrollment forecasting
    School district construction advisory committee
    School financing and budgeting
    Transportation: safe school access, neighborhood traffic management, and safe routes to school

  6. Robert E. DeAtley Says:

    Charles, the Country Fair site is shown in the slide that shows land values and discusses the concern of the Thorntons gas station that sits on part of the site (or next to the site). @ Pattsi, your comment is very helpful. One of the slides in the presentation shows what D/R suggests a 40-acre high school site might look like, including 1,600 parking spaces, 3 baseball fields, 3 softball fields, 6 tennis courts, 2 restroom and field house structures, 4 band/PE playing fields, a larger competition field with bleachers, and a 150,000 to 280,000 SF school. I’d like to see the breakdown of what is at Centennial now (or after proposed renovations). After all, maybe D/R and Unit 4 should ask voters for funding to purchase and develop a 60-acre site, so the facility can have even more parking and more playing fields…. To Pattsi’s point, what are the true needs, and when you begin to plot those items, how large of a site does the new school really need?

  7. G. David Frye Says:

    Charles, re: K-8 “choice”: What you propose is just a couple of steps removed from an elitist approach – keep my kids in the same school through 8th grade, so they aren’t exposed to so much upheaval and turmoil. But then when their child is in the 5th grade and discover he or she has an amazing talent for X (cello, geometry, cross-country, etc.), they’ll be fighting to get the same benefit.

    To comments about acreage: I am not in a place right now where I can dig up the reference, but I have the strong recollection that a portion of the high school acreage, maybe 10%(?), was for storm water retention. Obviously Central does not have any storm management – heck, it doesn’t really even have unpaved ground to speak of. Centennial, with its larger footprint and “complete” sports facilities, was also built in an era where there was no requirement to provide for surface drainage. This time around, can we get away with that?

  8. pattsi Says:

    G. David, there has been a significant paradigm shift as to the handling of surface water. Now the design is to hold water on site and allow to percolate downward along with other green solutions.

  9. charlesdschultz Says:

    I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Monday BOE meeting is not going to be packed with concerned citizens. 🙂 No disrespect to such concerned citizens reading this blog – how many of you intend to “pack the house?” 🙂

    For me, I don’t see how the HUGE price tag is ever going to be acceptable as it stands. The phone survey that contacted less than 1% of the voting population suggests that younger voters are more likely to vote in favor of, and older voters are more likely to vote against. So it really comes down to who shows up at the polls. In my heart, I truly wish we could engage in some community-wide deliberation on these issues (and I have tried in my own small ways to get such things going) – perhaps the largest obstacle to making an informed vote is that there is simply an overwhelming amount of information. Plus, everyone folds in their subjective views (which is not a bad thing, just something else as an extra variable).

    Worse, even if the referendum does pass (either recommendation), it is going to make the snowballing tax burden on the lower incomes folks that much greater (remember, we have the joy of many new taxes and more cuts to our benefits in 2014).

    I am not advocating that folks vote “no” on the referendum (yet). Rather, I think it is crucial, even a social obligation, to understand what we want with our school district. I fear too many of us are burned out, apathetic and/or just too dog gone busy. So if you do care about your school district, I urge you not to give up – make your voice heard to the Board of Education. Heck, if you want a personal audience, drop me a line and I will help make that happen. *grin*

  10. G. David Frye Says:

    Pattsi – I understand that. That’s my whole point. A new high school, wherever it’s planted, needs enough extra space for storm water retention. So one can’t just start with an aerial view of Centennial or Urbana HS, for example, and just copy/paste its components onto some known empty space. It makes all of the interior spaces (Country Fair, Spalding, Bristol Place) problematic unless the requirement is waived.

    What happened to the Curtis Road (east of tracks) site?

    I’m not convinced that the northern sites have been adequately vetted for traffic flow issues. The whole North Prospect mess only gets worse if you inject daily student/parent/bus traffic into the existing flow. Do you suppose the city is going to have the resources to address that?

  11. Karen Says:

    The wants far exceed the needs. Going for a door-in-the-face initial amount hoping for the intended effect of making a less costly (but, still significant) proposal more palatable? Why not. We’ve already been Delphi-d by Unit 4 and their hired consultants. What is Unit 4 doing to raise money for their wants (beyond hitting tax payers up for 100%?? of the costs)? How do some area privates as well as Uni produce good students in less than optimal facilities? All this money being requested and none of it has to do with improving the curriculum. When economic times are tough do what you would do with your OWN checkbook. Stop excessive spending and make-do (following the lead of others, resourcefully and creatively so). Over decades Unit 4 seems not to have nurtured any relationships in the financial community? How is that coming along, at present.

  12. pattsi Says:

    G. David, there are ways to retain water without needing lots of space, such as under ground cisterns that recycle back into the bathrooms, external two to three story cisterns at every downspout, green roofs, permeable pavement, rain gardens, to name a few. Just think how much education and research could evolve from using these approaches to mitigate stormwater and influence the next generation. Personally, I can envision ways to expand Central HS on the present site with very innovative architecture design. I can do an even better job when I think through using the four corners at Bradley and Neil along with the street space via pedestrian overpasses. These would be spectacular design problems for theB three departments housed in Buell Hall. Ler’s give those students a chance to think outside box.

  13. G. David Frye Says:

    Why? Can’t we just build a new fully-functional school? Does it have to be a learning experience / research opportunity / intellectual exercise? Every year you delay this – in the misguided spirit of turning it into some kind of model project for the future – another class of Central students enrolls at, or graduates from, an embarrassingly under-equipped and logistically challenged facility. Every year of delay means a higher price tag for the replacement school, plus the ever-increasing costs of maintaining the current one.

    In your wildest flights of imagination you aren’t going to be able to expand Central on the current site while simultaneously solving the rest of the facilities issues – room for parking, physical education, and sports. I’m not sure the problem can be solved for any interior site, even your hypothetical and wildly impractical Neil & Bradley location, except through imminent domain, and the district has suggested they want to avoid this.

    I thought the survey results were pretty clear. The consensus is that people want a new Central High School with facilities equivalent to Centennial’s.

  14. pattsi Says:

    Good to continue this discussion–my first comment is to acknowledge that delays by previous board has created a squeeze play now in decision making. Much of this was intentional when previous boards choose not to obtain property surrounding Central. The goal for over a decade was to build a huge complex on the edge of town. I know this because a previous board member laid this out for me. Now that we are in what some people perceive as a bind, we MUST make a decision yesterday. This is exactly when the worse decisions made. Whatever happens about the HS will affect this community for 50 years. So this better be a well thought out decision.
    As to using eminent domain at Neil and Bradley–might apply to one corner. I am not arguing that this is the best option, just pointing out that all of the options put on the table are green or gray fields on the perimeter. Why is this the case? Not because everyone in the community thinks this is what ought to be, but what those who choose the consulting firm want to be the case. There is plenty of research and a recent NY Times article about choosing consultants to get the desired answer. I attended many of the meetings, especially the last one. I talked to the consultants on several occasions. It is very clear that the process was skewed, especially the last meeting in that the decisions were on packaged possibilities. This is not the way to come to a democratic community decision.
    As to my suggestion kof turning design students loose on the project and that this would cause more delays, etc., I made this suggestions before the consultant was chosen and I continued to make the suggestion after the consultant was chosen. Had this occurred when the consultant came on board, the community would have had more choices. Why are we afraidce of more choices.u
    Let me point out that we are having to spend a lot of time on the county jail issue now because the county’s feet were put to the fire to get something done NOW. The result is the downtown jail and then the satellite jail. This costs the county unnecessary money and potentially more as we now have to solve the previous decisions. Do you as a taxpayer like the fact that your tax dollars are not effectively and efficiently spent because decisions were rushed?

  15. G. David Frye Says:

    If, by finally acting in the next year, we can have a high school open in fall 2018, that’s a) a huge win for our kids and b) far from being a rush decision. Truth is, this has been anything but rushed. It my opinion it has been a process that has been ceaselessly dragged down by a vocal minority opposed to some aspect of the proposal – location, facilities, cost – or just simply distrustful of the district administration. One good outcome of the surveys is that we have a better sense of what the community as a whole – not just the strident voices – wants.

    My son drives to and from school each day. He typically leaves 20 minutes earlier than would be necessary based on the start of classes, because he wants to get a parking space within a few blocks of the school and all student parking is on the neighborhood streets. The one existing parking lot is reserved for teachers, and even so, some teachers have to park on the street. As a mid-day visitor, I often can’t find a parking space at all. At the end of the school day, all of the outdoor sports teams have to travel to other locations for practice: football, soccer, baseball, cross country, track and field – all locations 1/2 mile or more away – in all kinds of weather. The marching band is bused each day in the fall to and from a field at Centennial for their practice. The congestion around the school at the beginning and end of the day due to pedestrians, buses and cars is incredible.

    These problems are never going to be solved by buying up land around Central. Fair value for properties in the surrounding blocks is much larger than, say, Neil and Bradley. I think it’s reasonable to assume that it might run as much as $500,000/acre, not counting litigation costs and delays. The district would only have money to make such purchases by passing the referendum anyway.

  16. pattsi Says:

    Continuing the conversation, though it would be great to hear from others. First let me address the individual scenario that you posted. My question is why do we focus on car parking for the students–1600 parking spaces? There are other means to get to school, walk, run, bike, Vespa, public transportation, etc. Why has not the consultant suggested an incentive to ween away from cars to alternatives? And then your son would not have to leave early though there could be built in advantages for arriving early. I know of no correlation between brilliance of student and physical building. I do understand why there is the penchant here that new is good, better, best. A new building does not guarantee all graduates will be accepted at Harvard. But if that did happen a huge bravo.
    My challenging questions are:
    In 1-2 decades how do we know that education will be taught in the manner as today? Maybe students will only physically be in the school building two days a week and the other 3 the classes skype. Another alternative is to extend the school day. This spreads out the student population and/or alters the need for many different spaces because these can be multi-use. And another one–maybe seniors only are required to touch base with the teacher once a month. This is the English and European approach and would better prepare our students for higher education.
    Turn athletic competition over to the park district. There is space there. Or if students use Vespas, aka England and Europe plus 100 mpg, they can get to any secondary venue for sports, music, etc.
    Back to skype, this might open opportunities for students to take classes at other school districts thus broadening the academic possibilities without increased cost.
    I reflect on the U. o f Pittsburgh campus next to Carnegie Mellon U. Pitt is housed in the Tower of Learning–25 stories high. And they they have athletics, etc. It can be done.
    Now to the money–the cost of all of this would not be what is projected HAD previous boards done the job. These mentioned property tax increases are going to be a major burden on a large part of the population. And to top all of this off, this method of financing education along with the1% sales tax are all regressive. I have not heard one word about community equity or changing the. means of funding education.
    Last point relating to your post–there is absolutely no way one can make the statement that the consultant report is the result of random and stratified community input. You mention delays because of the noise made by a few. This is no different than the few used as input for the report.

  17. Karen Says:

    The survey results are not representative (of anything). Unit 4 is well aware of that. That had been their intention. They chose to use a deceitful method (Delphi) of ‘consensus’ building. It is so dishonest to ‘engage’ the public like that–pretending as though their time and effort in participating mattered at all. Who wants to give money to people who have actively duped you? Predictably, this has become a ‘this is what the public wants’ ‘go-to ‘front’ for what Unit 4 wants. The $100K price tag has been well worth the (faux) ‘distancing’ and illusion of impartiality for them. Working as planned. Community members are now repeating the conflated-to-representative ‘survey’ (using the term loosely as the one/s used by the consultants appear to have, among other things, significant validity issues) results.

  18. G. David Frye Says:

    Charles, I surrender. I regret the time I have spent here, in part because the audience appears to be so small and partly because I can’t handle the level of suspicion and distrust that permeates nearly every post and comment. I wish you the best in your endeavor here. After ~1 year of monitoring it, I’m not sure I really know what that is.

    I have unsubscribed from the site.

  19. Karen Says:

    ‘Wecannotthinkaboutthefinancialrepercussionswhendealingwiththefutureofsociety.’ Yes, you can! Trillions in debt and all that = very real repercussions for the future of a society.

    The self-esteem thing is a myth that keeps getting repeated: http://imaginefirestone.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/RethinkingSelf-Esteem.pdf

    Do schools really need pools and tennis courts on-site?
    Why does generation green need so many parking spaces for students? Practice what is being preached to you. Take public transit. Walk. Bike. Car pool.

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