TRENDS IN EDUCATION

Once in a while, it is good to take the time to look at what is happening in the field of education and how it affects various areas of facility planning and management. The following six people have made it their business to know what is going on with educational facilities and have agreed to share what they have seen.

Thomas A. Kube is executive director/CEO of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). He can be reached at .

The debate over what constitutes an effective school building will rage on for the foreseeable future. That debate will occur between policy makers, parents, professionals and their respective associations. In America, the ongoing requirements of No Child Left Behind, state accountability standards and regional facility equity conditions will be on the forefront. These factors will influence the planning, design and construction of our schools. Implicit in this will be the ongoing balance (or trade-off) of funding and community resources and the nature of the physical environment they can reasonably afford for their children. School facility professionals will need to continue to show the verifiable relationship between a school facility and student achievement. School systems that can demonstrate this to their constituencies will be successful in garnering the support and resources to build and maintain the schools they need to educate their children.

“Where children learn” is the driving force behind CEFPI and its efforts to help the K-12 community of interest plan and achieve the most functional schools for our children and our educators. In 2006, look for the council to continue leading the charge to build healthful, high-performing facilities on behalf of learners of all ages.

Hugh Skinner, REFP, is CEFPI President and an associate with Stantec in Vancouver, B.C. He can be reached at .

Our society is looking for more accountability in many different ways. One of the ways that this trend is manifesting itself is in efforts to improve student achievement with quantifiable measures. It has long been recognized, intuitively, that the quality of a school facility can improve the performance of children and teaching professionals. Consequently, educational facility planners will increasingly find themselves in a decision-making environment where there will be increased demands and expectations for quantifiable evidence illustrating the value of the capital expenditure.

The school of the future will not be one size or one shape to fit all communities. Just as society and the pace of societal, economic and cultural change will continue to increase, school facilities and the planning process will face more frequent requests to adapt the physical environment to respond to evolving curriculum and instructional delivery models that produce measurable outcomes.

Fritz Edelstein is senior advisor at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at .

One strategy mayors are trying to encourage and implement in their cities is connecting related health and social services with education. Mayors are interested in co-locating these services in schools whenever possible. The joint-use approach to school buildings also links the teachers with the related service providers to better serve the wide-ranging needs of the students, especially those with problems that adversely affect their learning. As schools are either being built or modernized, this concept is being incorporated in the community discussion and the new plans. Several cities have begun to do this under the leadership of the mayor, including Akron (Ohio) — Mayor Don Plusquellic and St. Paul (Minn.) — former Mayor Randy Kelly, and several schools in New York City have taken this approach in a project of the Children’s Aid Society and the city school system, which is under the control of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Another unique example of combined services occurs in a Phoenix elementary school attended by only homeless children.

In other cities, mayors are working with their local school system to create new learning environments and opportunities that don’t necessarily occur in the traditional school setting. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley led the way to place a school in the city’s new aquarium. Minneapolis has had a school at its zoo for many years. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was planning to include a high school in the Super Dome. This is presently on hold. A totally different idea has been implemented by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and the local high school system by creating the initial first responders high school in the nation, to educate and train students to become employed in the city’s homeland security agencies.

Several mayors have become a part of teacher recruitment and retention efforts of their school systems so quality teachers are hired and retained. Two of these mayors are San Jose (Calif.) Mayor Ron Gonzales and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Mayor Richard Baker. Both mayors have instituted programs that provide housing incentives, including loans towards the purchase of a first home and ultimately loan forgiveness for those teachers who stay and teach in the district for a certain number of years. Other mayors are looking at these programs given the current rate of retirement and turnover of teachers in urban centers.

These are only a few of the many things mayors are working with school systems to try to enhance educational learning opportunities for students. The goal is to use a variety of city resources and services to have a positive affect to make teaching and learning exciting and challenging for students of all ages and interests.

Larry Schoff is National K-12 Schools Technical Analyst for the U.S. Dept.of Energy’s Rebuild America/EnergySmart Schools programs. He can be reached at .

There are several trends I see schools incorporating in the construction of new and management of existing school facilities aimed at improving the learning and teaching environment. These are commissioning, modeling, looking behind closed doors and utility/energy management.

Commissioning of a school building, in the past, was defined as testing of the HVAC systems to meet design parameters. Today, more and more school districts are hiring commissioning agents at the conceptual phase of their projects to ensure concepts are designable, designs are constructible, building systems are compatible and provide services throughout all phases, to ensure its systems are constructed/installed/operate as designed. A commissioning agent provides“quality assurance” to a project by finding problems before they occur, reducing the need for change orders and call backs, and providing a learning and teaching environment where students and teachers are comfortable from the first day occupancy. Commissioning has become a key element in many design standards/rating systems like LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) and CHPS (Collation for High Performance Schools). They assure energy efficiency is achievable once occupied. Districts that have employed commissioning agents for recent projects, have found they are worth their weight in oil at today’s energy prices.

Modeling, like commissioning, is being required of their design professionals by more and more school districts to insure the building being designed achieves the highest efficiency of both the systems and the materials being used at the least cost. Modeling is a key design element in many design standards like LEED and CHPS. Modeling is most commonly used in the determination of the energy utilization of a design and its materials. Energy modeling allows the designer to minimize the energy use and building cost by changing materials, systems and their costs to achieve maximum efficiency. Daylight modeling assists in the determination of building orientation, placement and design of day-lighting monitors and windows and their associated systems (shading, light shelves, diffusers). Daylight modeling, when combined with energy modeling, can assist the designer in the determination of the overall building efficiency and cost. School districts that are or have used modeling in their designs include Virginia Beach Public Schools (Va.), The Dalles School District (Ore.), Poudre School District, Fort Collins, (Colo.), Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District (N.C.) and Valley View Public Schools, Romeoville (Ill.)

Looking Behind Closed Doors is a strange trend but is based on new technology. Since the late 1960s, schools designed have incorporated lighting systems which used 277-volt systems. This has resulted in the installation of dry transformers in schools to provide necessary 120/208 voltage for wall outlets for all the educational equipment, transforming 277/480 volts incoming power to the 120/208 volts. These transformers are being placed throughout buildings mostly behind closed doors. These doors are labeled with the words “Electrical”. Today the commonly installed dry transformer efficiency curve does not match its typical loading. The U.S. Department of Energy surveyed different building types recently and found that K-12 schools had a typical loading range of dry transformers of between nine and 24 percent with the mean at 16 percent. The dry transformers installed today achieve maximum efficiency at between 35 and 50 percent loading. These same transformers are not UL approved for today’s electronic loads if they exceed five percent of the load.

The transformer efficiency is not the only source of wasted energy in the transformer operation. A typical 75 KVA transformer installed today in schools consumes about 800 watts per hour to energize the core of the transformer. Transformers operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the life of the building — say 50 years. What does this mean? During 50 years, more than 350,000 kilowatt hours of electricity are used to energize the core and no energy is being transformed. The U.S. Department of Energy established new standards in 2004 for energy efficient transformers. These standards would reduce energy requirements to energize the core to about 100 watts/hour. This means more than 300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity would be saved during the life of the building if one 75KVA transformer were installed. These transformers achieve their maximum efficiency between 10 and 15 percent, thus matching the demands of most schools. A typical school could have from four to 24 dry transformers dependent on size and electrical needs. The energy savings is significant and to paraphrase a popular song “you don’t know how much energy is being lost behind closed doors.”

Energy Management/Policy — As the utility costs increased during the past couple of years, more schools are looking closely at their utilities bills and energy use. Schools are realizing that you can not determine how much energy you can save until you know how and how much energy is being used in their facilities. This has become to be known as Energy Management and is a process that many schools are now engaging.

School districts gather information to obtain a better understanding of how their schools are being used, how energy is being consumed, types of the energy systems installed and the implementation of products, systems, services and education to reduce energy usage with the target to improve the overall energy efficiency of existing facilities and their systems. Many districts today using Energy Management use computer-based controllers to determine the operational characteristics of equipment and then use the data obtained to maximize the energy efficiency. Success of Energy Management lies in education of all segments of the school community — decision makers, administration, instructional and support personnel, and most importantly, the students. The first step in development of a successful energy management program is the adoption of an Energy Policy by the school boards. School districts are realizing true energy savings can only be achieved when an energy management program, plan and policy, along with energy education and awareness training, are implemented by the entire district.

Kenneth S. Trump is president of National School Safety and Security Services out of Cleveland, Ohio. He can be reached at .

School safety experts’ expectations for 2006 should include the following.

• Emphasis on school safety as a leadership issue, with recognition that school safety is directly related to academic improvement.

• School safety professional development training will be focused less on motivational, feel-good presentations and more on violence prevention techniques, cutting-edge threat trends, practical heightened security strategies and school emergency planning best practices.

• More professional school security assessments by experienced in-house security staff, school-based police and qualified, experienced external school safety consultants.

• Shifts from fill-in-the-blank school emergency plan templates that increase liability risks, to building and district-tailored guidelines developed by trained school staff and their community partners.

• Tabletop exercises involving school staff and community safety partners to test written plans through hypothetical emergency scenarios.

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Has interest in sustainability initiatives—from alternative energy and water conservation to “green” landscaping, recycling, fossil-fuel divestment, local sourcing, and more—waned in your district?


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