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Articles: Construction

A bright new classroom space welcomes students with books and Snoopy of the Peanuts gang.
The completed magnet school in September features the name “Victoria Soto School” on the exterior panels.
A view of the new elementary school playground that includes slides and monkey bars.

December 14, 2012 is a day of tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old first grade teacher who died trying to protect her students, has been honored by her hometown of Stratford, Connecticut, with the a newly constructed $18 million magnet elementary school bearing her name.

Granbury ISD students celebrate the groundbreaking of a high school remodel that includes a new ninth grade wing and a fine arts center expansion.
 Granbury ISD’s remodel includes a new ninth grade wing and a fine arts center expansion.
Granbury ISD’s high school renovation project is projected to be completed in August.
A renovated Methuen High School, part of Methuen Public Schools in Massachusetts, features a new auditorium.
Fluvanna County Public Schools in Virginia built a new state-of-the-art high school due to both aging facilities and enrollment growth.

State-of-the-art science labs, green buildings and internet upgrades are among major trends in school construction this year, as districts break ground on large projects that address aging facilities, increased enrollment and technology needs, according to the first annual DA School Construction Survey.

Hacienda La Puente USD in California signed a five-year, $5.3 million energy savings performance contract in part to upgrade exterior lighting at four high schools.

New partnerships between districts and energy service companies provide much-needed funding for school sustainability upgrades that can range from installing efficient lighting to renovating entire buildings.

Energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) allow school leaders and other public agencies to complete energy-savings projects without upfront capital costs.

San Diego USD's new football stadium includes synthetic turf and an all-weather track. The field is surrounded by new bleachers, which seat nearly 1,580 on the home side and 880 on the visitor’s side.
Kearny High School Principal Ana Diaz-Booz speaks to students and guests at the new facilities dedication ceremony in April.
An aerial view of the new baseball stadium.
The new weight room and attached concession stand.

San Diego USD student athletes now play in a new football stadium, baseball field, track and other sports facilities as an $11 million improvement project was completed in April.

The project’s funding came from Proposition Z, San Diego USD’s general obligation bond passed by voters in 2012, as well as from the State Schools Facilities Funds. Construction began in winter 2014.

Gloria Marshall Elementary School in Spring ISD in Texas has visible AC fixtures throughout the building. (Luis Ayala/US Green Building Council)

When a classroom is sweltering, nobody is productive. More and more teaching days are being lost to hot, humid weather even though there is a way to mitigate the problem: air conditioning. But the challenge is justifying the cost of installation and maintenance at a time when competition for budget money is fierce.

The complex was designed to maximize natural light through large windows and skylights.
A media center can be broken down into four to eight separate learning spaces for small or large groups, and can be converted from a classroom during the day to a presentation and community hub for up to 300 people at night.
Classrooms were designed to easily allow students to work with technology or in groups.
Hallways are wide and bright, and some include semicircular spaces built into the wall where students can work on small group projects.
All furniture was chosen based on its ability to be moved and used for different purposes.

Princeton City Schools in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area has the fifth-largest complex in the state, a 555,000-square-foot education center housing a middle school, high school and community center that will be complete this year.

The superintendent and school board created a plan in 2009 to secure funding for the unprecedented project in the district. The $130 million construction cost was paid for through a bond levy, government programs and Ohio’s HB 264 Energy Conservation Program.

Lakota Local School District in Ohio recently increased its communications staff to compete with private and parochial schools.

The era of school choice and open enrollment has driven many district leaders to create innovative programs and to more aggressively publicize their offerings to compete with charters and private schools that have drawn away families and funding.

Here, three districts turned the tide on enrollment with enhanced communication, construction and even recruitment initiatives.

Rutherford County Schools has opened 10 new schools since 2003 due to the district’s rapid enrollment growth.

What do you do when your school district grows by 12,000 students in 10 years?

In Rutherford County Schools in central Tennessee, the answer is build. One of the fastest growing districts in the nation, Rutherford’s enrollment rose from 29,600 in 2003-04 to 41,000 this year. It is now the fifth-largest in the state behind districts in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Three-quarters of respondents to a DA survey reported some degree of construction plans for the coming year. (Click to enlarge)

The encouraging sounds of construction will be heard at many schools in 2015 as districts are finding the funding to build new facilities and to give facelifts to aging campuses, according to a DA survey of K12 leaders.

Three-quarters of respondents have construction plans for the coming year, with 40 percent expecting to launch building or renovation projects. About a third of the respondents, 34 percent, said they have plans to repair or replace infrastructure.

Three quarters of respondents to a DA survey said funding for their district would increase or stay the same in 2015. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Navigating turbulent waters of uncertain budgets, district leaders have a great challenge: Answer the growing push for accountability and heightened community expectations in 2015.

During the ceremony, students held banners that read “Thank you” in English, Spanish and French.
 One of the 16 new, permanent classrooms that replaced 16 portable classrooms in the K8 school.
The new Language Academy buliding is part of a $12 million investment from bond measures passed in 2008 and 2012.
A new recess and gym area for students offers a view of the renovated school.

San Diego USD’s Language Academy dedicated its newly revitalized campus in July, complete with new environmentally-friendly classrooms and schoolwide air conditioning.

The Language Academy is a multicultural K8 school that offers bilingual immersion courses in English, Spanish and French. Students also gain knowledge of the history and culture of the language they study. At the ceremony, students led the Pledge of Allegiance in each language.

Renovations at the North Shore Central School District in Sea Cliff, N.Y. include updating an elementary school playground. Designers BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers are also performing facade repairs and an auditorium renovation.
Auburn High School (above) summer renovations included a cafeteria expansion, new windows, HVAC improvements and paving.
A field house addition at Guilford High School (above right) will include three full-size athletic courts, a running track and a weight room.
At Guilford High School, renovations include an updated auditorium, new windows and HVAC upgrades.

The beginning of the school year brings new construction projects in many districts, including Rockford Public Schools in Illinois and North Shore Central School District in New York.

At Rockford Public Schools, a district of 28,000 students in Illinois, all four of the district’s high schools were under heavy construction over the summer that will continue throughout the school year.

Joplin Public Schools in Missouri opened the doors to the brand new Joplin High School/Franklin Technology Center on Aug. 25.
The school includes four student/staff safe rooms and one community safe room that provide shelter during severe weather.
The high school includes windows and glass throughout the building to allow everyone to see the learning in progress.
There are flexible learning spaces throughout the campus to support a 21st-century learning focus on collaborative work and student-led study. Above is a rendering of the new cafeteria.
The school's new 2,500-seat gymnasium.
The school's new entryway.

Joplin Public Schools in Missouri opened the doors to the brand new Joplin High School/Franklin Technology Center on Aug. 25.

The original high school, along with a technical school, two elementary schools and a middle school, was destroyed in May 2011 after a tornado devastated the area.

insulation systems on school buildings is key to making a district’s investment last. Below, a maintenance worker repairs flashing adhesives on a school roof, which help seal the roof and prevent water leaks.
Before windows were replaced at the Harmony School in Bloomington, Ind.
After the windows were installed. Marvin Windows and Doors made sure the new and functional windows were also aesthetically pleasing, matching the school’s building style.

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.

Architects who built a new El Dorado High School in Arkansas in 2011 realized using wood, instead of steel, in the construction of the hallways could save the district millions of dollars.
Wood also was used in El Dorado High School's 450-seat theater.
Students and community members recently celebrate the groundbreaking of a new elementary school in the Northwest Community School District in Jackson, Mich., where no construction bonds had been passed for four decades.
Carmichaels Junior/Senior High School in Pennsylvania will have energy-efficient lighting and heating after this year’s renovations and expansion.
The Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston ISD was recently demolished to make way for new construction under a $1.89 billion school construction bond.
A crew at Worthing High School in Houston ISD begins work on a new school under a construction bond that covers 40 projects districtwide.

Safety, flexibility and energy efficiency are the forces driving new school construction as administrations create buildings to rival college facilities to prepare students for the technology-driven world they will find in college and the workforce.