Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Facilities Do Matter

(Have you heard that before?)

Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers publishes an infrastructure report card. The nation’s schools are one of the 16 segments of our infrastructure that are graded. In the 2017 report, school facilities received a D+ because 53 percent of them are in need of improvement just to be considered in “good” condition. Twenty-four percent are rated as being in fair or poor condition. What may be more disturbing is that the report states that around 40 percent of those public schools do not have a long-term educational facilities plan in place to address their operations and maintenance.

Those of you who are regular readers of this magazine know that one of our consistent messages is that the educational facility has a major impact on the quality of education. The condition of the facility is one important factor. Also important is the design of the educational spaces.

In this September issue, we continue to address these issues. John Bailey, who was named the 2017 National School Plant Manager of the Year by the National School Plant Management Association (NSPMA), writes in the Maintenance & Operations column about how plant operations and leadership help promote excellence.

This month’s cover story, Design Does Matter, by Jim French, FAIA, a designer with DLR Group’s Global K-12 Studio, writes about the results of a study that found that both students and educators agree that the design of the physical space in which they learn and teach makes a difference in the ability to keep students engaged.

Even our buildings’ exteriors play a part. The article, Removing Barriers, focuses on the appearance of the campus, especially the use of fencing. While this is an important tool for keeping schools and students safe and secure, obsolete or deteriorating fencing can send an unattractive message to students and the community.

Another component of the learning environment is the occupants’ level of comfort, whether that be physical — temperature, air quality, etc. — or mental — safe and secure. Long-time contributor, Ellen Kollie, researched how technology plays a large role in the operations, maintenance and as educational tools in, IoT: The Art of the Possible.

I wish I had more space to point out how all of the articles tie into this theme, but I believe you will have no trouble figuring that out. If there are topics we are not covering, or you feel need more attention, please feel free to email me (jenderle@1105media.com) and let me know.

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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