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Articles: Facilities

Large expanses of glass provide a connection between indoor and outdoor learning areas and offer plenty of natural light throughout the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus.
Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus has 10 wind turbines.
The 250,000 square-foot Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus will eventually enroll 1,500 students.
Flexible learning environments are configured for traditional instruction, group or individual study as the need arises.
 Group study areas feature work surfaces with storage underneath, offering more natural light and unobstructed views to the park site.
The student commons is the heart of the school, connecting its three learning communities. It is used for assembly, dining and group study.
The school was built on an abandoned park, where forgotten cars rusted. Today, the natural envioronment provides a rare rural escape for many of the urban students.

The largest school infrastructure project in Connecticut history is nearing its one-year anniversary. The Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus in Bridgeport, Conn., was completed last August for $126 million and is the state’s most environmentally friendly school.

Students in a Sodexo-run “Kids Way Cafe” cafeteria chose from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. All furniture and food are designed with bright primary colors, which can entice young children to eat up.
Students at Colonial School District in Delaware, left, learn the origin of some of their food by tending to the district’s garden, which supplies fruits and vegetables for the district’s school cafeterias.
The design of ARAMARK’s 12 Spot cafeteria for middle school students incorporates what many children this age value: sports and having fun with friends. Market research determines what food is offered, based on trends of what students like to eat.
ARAMARK’s u.b.u cafeteria for high school students is styled like a lounge, with comfortable seating for students to not only eat, but also come together to socialize or collaborate on school work.
A student at Minneapolis Public Schools selects a meal from among several healthy options, including a salad and a banana.
All furniture and food in Sodexo-run “Kids Way Cafe's are designed with bright primary colors, which can entice young children to eat up.

Students can be picky customers. And when they expect their cafeterias to serve a wide variety of attractive, fresh food, there is great pressure on food services staff to deliver. For some districts, the best way to please students and thereby increase participation is to maintain total control and keep all food service operations in-house.

Michael G. Shoaf is superintendent of Rocky River City School District.

With violent events seemingly on the rise in schools across the country, district leaders must develop fluid and thorough safety plans.

To address the variety of individual circumstances that may accompany these events, fluidity must be coupled with authentic practice and the engagement of stakeholders and experts. Practicing the plan, constantly considering best practices, and giving staff and students flexibility to adjust actions during an emergency are essential for a quality school safety plan.

2nd floor hallway
After: The school’s second-floor hallway walls were taped off and painted with a color chosen by students during the School Makeover event.
Before: A classroom
After: The School Makeover participants painted the walls of the entire classroom, hand-painted and installed new locker doors and created art-inspired ceiling tiles.
Before: Gym
After: It took over 100 people to paint all of the high walls of the gymnasium to give it a new look and feel during the School Makeover event.
Before: Outside activity wall
After: Volunteers built a new activity wall in an open space on the playground to encourage outdoor play.
Before: Peace garden
After: The School Makeover team planted different types of flowers and trees, and built a new trellis to update a peace garden that students can visit during lunch or recess.

Students at Frazier International Magnet School of Chicago Public Schools were treated to a fresh-painted gymnasium, classrooms and hallways thanks to an event from School Makeover, a national charity team-building program for corporations and large organizations to make a difference in the communities where they do business. The program is organized by a corporate team-building company called Team Worx.

Cafeteria commons: Students at East Middle School will enjoy breakfast and lunch in their new commons area. The space is flooded with natural light and designed with special touches including booths, high-top tables and outdoor seating.
Glass-paneled library: As students enter the new Irving Elementary, one of the first rooms they see is the light-filled media center and library. The colorful space includes soft-seating areas where students can lounge with a book, quiet workstations, and areas for teachers and students to collaborate on projects.
Open spaces: Instead of hallways, students at the new Irving Elementary enjoy open spaces between their classrooms called “learning parks.” The fourth and fifth graders’ learning park mimics outer space, complete with planets and comets. The learning parks are used for collaborative lessons and activities between classrooms and provide a space for indoor recess when necessary.
Safe rooms: All schools will have safe rooms built to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines. The safe rooms also serve as gymnasiums and are designed to provide shelter for students, staff and residents living within a five-minute walking distance during severe weather.

Joplin, Mo., lost three schools to one of the deadliest tornadoes to strike the nation in May 2011. And nearly three years later, in January, three new schools opened their doors for 1,300 students who had been attending classes at temporary facilities since the disaster.

Sodexo Education employees bring technical expertise to improve cleanliness in schools.

At what point does it make sense for a district to outsource janitorial services and buildings and grounds maintenance?

Among those who may want to consider outsourcing include district leaders who would like to see equipment cost savings by participating in the buying power of a large company or administrators who are frequently engaged in labor disputes with janitor unions.

The 12 new science labs are found on the third floor of the school’s addition, and were designed for flexibility. Fixed cabinetry is restrained to the outer edges, leaving the center open for collaboration. In this physics lab, benches sit at one end of the room while lecture seating with marker surfaces and a smartboard projector are at the other end. Teachers can also mount overhead structures from the ceiling.
New social studies classrooms located on the second floor of the addition have extra space at one end for each teacher to customize based on their needs; for example, as reading areas or group project spaces. Large windows were built to maximize natural light and conserve energy.
The undersized boys’ and girls’ tandem practice gyms at Webster Groves High School were demolished, and replaced with a two-level structure. The first level has multi-purpose rooms for physical education and sports training, cheerleading and other active uses; the second level is a competition gym with bleachers and public access for games. The school expanded into an adjacent service alley to create space for the new structure.
The intersection of hallways in the new third floor science department is roughly the size of a classroom. In this wide area, teachers set up physics demonstrations and experiments in motion, or allow students to lay out large projects for assembly, create posters or test robotics.

The 100-year-old Webster Groves High School, part of the Webster Groves School District in a St. Louis, Mo. suburb, is an important civic landmark. However, its antiquated infrastructure and classrooms ill-equipped for educational media were preventing administrators from fully implementing 21st-century learning models, including blended learning.

Energy specialists for the Tulsa Public Schools inspect an air-cooled chiller during one of their daily energy audits of facilities throughout the district.

Focusing on energy management can bring large savings to a district. From using special software to enlisting the help of outside advising firms, district leaders can leverage tools and best practices to manage their energy consumption and thereby reduce costs.

Here are nine tips and tricks from district leaders and energy experts for controlling energy costs in your district:

The Wake County Public School System opened Rolesville High School last August, a four-story school with 111 teaching spaces to serve 2,262 students at full capacity. It was made possible with a bond issue.

The Puyallup School District in Washington brought a $279 million bond issue before the local community in February, with plans to move 4,000 students out of portable classrooms by constructing and expanding buildings. The measure lost narrowly—55 percent of voters said yes to an issue that needed 60 percent to pass.

Coming this fall, students at six of the nation’s largest urban districts will be served lunch on round plates made of biodegradable sugar cane.

Six of the nation’s biggest school districts have taken another bold step in changing the face of school lunches. The districts in the Urban School Food Alliance—New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas, and Orlando—have banded together to purchase biodegradable trays made of sugar cane to cut down on both cost and waste.

The new Taft Information Technology High School was among the buildings in the Cincinnati Public Schools that was renovated or newly built under the master plan.

It’s not little and it’s not red, but the schoolhouse remains the center of Cincinnati Public Schools’ neighborhoods. The schools are where students and residents alike have access to free health care, civic programs, and mentoring provided through partnerships with social service agencies.

These partnerships have transformed schools into Community Learning Centers and are central to the district’s nearly completed $1 billion construction project, Superintendent Mary Ronan says.

Students at Valley Christian School in San Jose, Calif., buy healthy snacks like coconut water, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit, from a high-tech HUMAN Healthy Vending machine.

As school leaders shift to selling healthier products in their vending machines, they can also take the opportunity to change their business model and consider investing in high-tech machines for a range of benefits.

Students in Denver Public Schools swipe a bus pass before they get on or off. The date, time, and location are recorded on a secure website that parents and administrators can access.

With the swipe of a bus pass, Denver Public Schools students are answering the often-asked parent question, “Did my child get on the bus today?” Denver joins other districts in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and North Carolina trying to improve safety by using a system that tracks when and where students get on and off buses.

More students in Fairfield Community Schools in Goshen, Ind., are taking the bus due to tougher economic times. It increased ridership from about 2,700 in 2009 to more than 2,800 this year. In turn, rides are longer for students. Above, one New Paris Elementary School bus ride is 55 minutes long.

Innovations ranging from on-board music to digital mapping and alternative fuels are making long bus rides better experiences for students while also helping districts make transportation more efficient.

Experience shows that children who spend more time on buses are likely to get bored or behave badly. For rural districts, where hour-long rides are not uncommon and some may exceed two hours, the situation can be especially problematic.

Driver Dawn Lemaster, above, reads to Lake Orion students. She was the Thomas Built Essay Contest Winner 2012—North American School Bus Driver of the Year.

When a bus driver for Lake Orion Community Schools in Michigan grew concerned that riders were bored, she began bringing books and games on board for students to use while in transit.

That became the first step in the development in a special program to promote reading and other learning activities. Through an initiative dubbed BusSTAR (Support Teaching by Assisting in Reading), drivers now assist teachers in the classroom and provide other support during the part of the day when they are not transporting students.