Back to School: Are Facilities Ready for Learning?

September 21, 2011

According to School Planning and Management, 98,916 K-12 public schools serving more than 55 million students and staff are back in business this fall. The challenges faced by facilities management teams at these schools are enormous, including the need to provide the right facilities for new ways of learning based on rapidly changing technology and evolving educational norms.

In the August issue of SPM, an article describes this latest challenge: “The most critical space in terms of education delivery, of course, is the classroom itself. A key consideration is that the space for large-group learning be easily broken into multiple, small-group learning spaces. For example, one group of students may be building a working volcano, while another group is writing a report on volcanoes, and a third is watching an Internet-access volcano video.” James Brady, AIA, REFP, executive director of Austin, Texas-based America’s Schoolhouse Council, a national consortium of educational planners and designers, comments, “The classroom is less and less of a container to hold children. It’s more and more a place of engagement.”

These new ways of learning will necessarily have an impact on strategic facilities capital planning and management, as facilities teams make plans to support students and teachers with buildings that meet their varying needs.

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