Why did we undertake a comprehensive Facility Master Plan?
Novato Unified School District (NUSD) has thirteen school sites that provide the educational setting for approximately 8,000 students, 850 teachers, professionals, and classified staff along with administration and parent volunteers. These schools were built over 50 years ago, in the 1960s and 1970s. Our schools were modernized and repaired with the proceeds of the 2001 Measure A Bond. All 2001 Bond funds, $107 million, were fully expended in 2010.
As we developed the NUSD Graduate Profile, defining the six skills known as “The 6 C’s”, as well as what academic content should be delivered by our teachers, it became evident that our school facilities do not provide the appropriate learning environment to support 21st century learning. Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Communication are three of “The 6 C’s” driving changes in the design of educational learning spaces. As teachers move to Project Based Learning (PBL) curriculum, the classroom or learning space will need to be different than designed in the 1960s and 1970s. PBL requires that teachers be the facilitators of small and large groups as opposed to the traditional teaching method of using lectures. The classroom space should support this new pedagogy. As such, our classrooms require modifications including furniture, technology, and classroom space; or, as said by many in the industry, Construction follows Instruction.
What has the District done to understand the educational and “brick and mortar” facility needs currently and for the next 20 years?
In December 2015, the Board of Trustees approved an agreement with architectural firm WLC Architects to develop a comprehensive education facility master plan. WLC Architects began the process by conducting community and site meetings to provide information about facility needs, 21st century learning spaces and to gather input from these stakeholder groups regarding needs and desires. As part of this process, WLC Architects also evaluated the educational suitability of current school facilities. Over 40 meetings were conducted, including teachers and staff, parents, PTA members, booster clubs, students, Cabinet, Board members, and District consultants including Greystone West, construction management firm.
In the beginning of the process, facility needs and wants represented costs exceeding $500 million; preliminary analysis demonstrated that a General Obligation Bond could generate only $222 million – a gap of more than $275 million.
Members of each site community participated in a prioritization process where they discussed and identified site needs, then voted on the site-specific projects identified to prioritize them by placing a dot next to the project(s) most important to them; each person present at the meeting was given four dots for voting. This process allowed project lists to be prioritized and scaled down to approximately $264 million. After each meeting, a team including WLC, Greystone West, and District staff met to discuss and revise the master project list based on community input, educational needs, and facility structural needs.
In order to allocate the limited resources from an anticipated General Obligation Bond, the master project list was divided into three tiers by priority. The First priority, Tier I, identifies basic structural upgrades required at each school site to be in alignment with current code requirements. This list was developed over the past two years by Greystone West, site principals and District Maintenance and Operations (M&O) staff.
The cost associated with Tier I – Basic Upgrades / Code Requirements is currently estimated at $29 Million.
The Second Priority, Tier II, identifies District Priorities, which consist of projects to support 21st century learning, multipurpose room upgrades (including permanent stages), kitchen upgrades, air conditioning, security system upgrades, and classroom device refresh (Chromebook, iPad, Surface, etc.).
The cost associated with Tier II – District Priorities is currently estimated at $55 Million.
The third priority, Tier III, identifies Site-Specific Priorities, which consists of projects specific to each school site. This priority level is further divided into two categories – Level 1.0 and Level 1.1. Level 1.0 focuses site-specific projects for the elementary schools (except Lynwood & Olive), Hill Education Center, and Novato Charter School. Level 1.1 focuses on the two oldest school sites, Lynwood and Olive, the Secondary Schools, and Hamilton School.
Projects included in Tier III are based on the educational focus of each school, priorities as expressed by participants in the various meetings, and the 21st century learning concepts.
The cost associated with Tier III – Site-Specific Priorities is currently estimated at $122 Million, with Level 1.0 at $15 Million and Level 1.1 at $107 Million.
21st Century Learning emphasizes the growth of the whole student, not just in content knowledge, but also a variety of skills, which contribute to their competitiveness in a global economy and health as a well rounded citizen. For more information about 21st Century learning skills, check out the infographic below, or visit the NUSD page for the new Graduate Profile.