Topics of Interest
Master Planning Purpose & Process
An educational facility master plan is a long-term plan that sets an overall direction, answers key questions and/or establishes priorities that will guide its implementation.
Starting in early 2020, School District U-46 engaged in an educational facility master plan study of our 57+ buildings with an eye towards meeting the Board of Education's vision, which includes moving to a true middle school model (grades 6-8 versus only 7-8), using the space in elementary schools to expand early childhood opportunities across U-46, and to replace and or renovate some of our older buildings or those that do not provide 21st century learning spaces.
This plan is intended to provide direction for the next 10-15 years. It is intended to be flexible, meaning that if things change within the district, the plan can adapt to those changes. All programs provided by the district, including early childhood, dual language, visual and performing arts, magnets/pathways, and special education are taken into account. In addition to programmatic requirements, the master plan will consider the building performance, district sustainability goals.
DLR Group is the Chicago-based design group U-46 chose to partner with us on this work. The firm employs design researchers who bring subject-matter expertise to the team and review recent and relevant literature. They synthesize current best practices in design research, studies that are relevant to the district, and white papers from other relevant professionals.
Stakeholder engagement includes a combination of in-person activities such as shadowing, interviews, and building tours, virtual meetings, workshops, and building tours (synchronous), and surveys and questionnaires (asynchronous).
There are different participatory groups involved in this process: the F&O Team: comprised of District Administration including Deputy Superintendent Operations, Director of Plant Operations, Director of Business Services, and Director of School & Community Relations; Administrative Leadership including Superintendent and the Superintendent’s Cabinet; Program Leaders, and the Steering Committee, who are community members representing diverse perspectives, experiences, and geographic areas of the district.
Students and teachers have also been involved in this process. Students participated in workshops focused on the future of learning in U-46. Additionally, 45 students/classes across all cohort levels were shadowed so members of the design team could understand firsthand what the student experience is like. Educators participated in workshops around imagining the future of curriculum and learning in U-46 and provided responses to surveys giving feedback on indoor environmental quality and learning environments. Community members have also participated, they were invited to presentations of phase one and two information collected; a CAC workshop focused on Healthy Communities and a workshop around sustainability goals and values for district facilities. Community members also gave feedback in a community-wide survey reflecting on their experiences within the communities that make up U-46.
Safety and Security
Safety and security are incorporated into all aspects of the master planning effort. DLR Group will take into consideration safety and security issues when developing the plan. U-46 considers issues of safety and security in relationship to the whole student or person, to plan for facilities that are secure and encourage a sense of safety and wellbeing for both students and educators. Transparency and visibility within a building have been shown to improve relationships with other students and staff, leading to a better school atmosphere. Material and programmatic relationships must be made with the district’s overall safety plan in mind, so that the design aligns with how U-46 intends to handle safety and security protocols.