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new schools wish list
Old 06-14-2018, 06:53 AM
 
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We are building all new elementary schools in our district and I am on the design team to evaluate ideas. We've toured some local schools, and didn't really feel that they would have anything better, just newer, so we're looking for inspiration.
What would you wish for in a new elementary (K-5) building?
For those who have taught in new buildings, are there any things you wish had been done differently?
It's an exciting process, but definitely overwhelming to take on!
Thanks for your ideas!

ETA: I'd really love to see pictures of of your newer schools/classrooms, if anyone's willing to share.



Last edited by roo; 06-14-2018 at 07:28 AM..
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:15 AM
 
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My previous school was newer. I loved that they had lots of built in shelf space for the classroom library.
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New school
Old 06-14-2018, 07:53 AM
 
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Ours in now 12 years old , but new in a sense
One recommendation is make sure you can accommodate growth. Our rooms were set up for 25 students max. Cubbies, coat hooks, desk space, etc. Guess what ? Some years we have had 26, 27 and even 28! We had to get creative with the overflow.

Pay attention to class location. Our poor little pre,-k and kinders are the farthest rooms from the cafeteria. They do, however have the largest rooms with a single bathroom within, very cool feature.

A sink and fountain in every room is great!
Lots of cupboards and open bookshelves is great too!
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Consider:
Old 06-14-2018, 08:55 AM
 
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Give a lot of thought to the placement of the SmartBoards.


Plenty of electrical outlets are a necessity.


A way to keep the gym noise from the rest of the building.


Buy printers with a scanner.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:21 AM
 
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A school I toured had an amazing library/tech space in the center of the school. It was bright, lots of windows, inviting, well-stocked, open. It made it seem like reading was an important part of the school culture.


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Old 06-14-2018, 09:42 AM
 
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Lots of built in storage. One new school I visited had shelving built in below counters that ran the length of one wall. Above the counter was lots of cabinet space. The teacher had lots of room for leveled readers, data binders, and a large class library.

More outlets than people think you would need. With things going so high tech, classrooms have to be built to power everything.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:42 AM
 
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A sink in the room.
So often high up space near the ceiling is wasted-why not storage there?

MORE electrical outlets,, including one or two on the floor in the middle of the room.

Doors that can be barricaded from within. At least one window that can be used for escape.

Alternative lighting-so often the only option is overhead florescent. Can there be something in addition to that?

I always like libraries that have carpeted steps for the children to sit on during story time.
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Love the ideas
Old 06-14-2018, 11:19 AM
 
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I love the ideas so far!

I'd add that I've been into some new schools where over the walls is a type of material that works like bulletin boards. You can hang things right on the walls with staples or thumbtacks, just like you could a bulletin board. It's all wall space though! This was phenomenal! It made it super easy to hang anything!
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School Wish List
Old 06-14-2018, 12:02 PM
 
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Windows!
A bathroom in each classroom K-3
A sink in every room
Bathrooms in the middle rather than end of hallways
A fountain for every 5 classrooms...we had a lead level problem in one fountain, which then left one for 12 classes to share. Very hard!
Rooms that can accommodate growth.
Enough shelving and storage!
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Teacher bathrooms
Old 06-14-2018, 12:11 PM
 
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Plenty of teacher bathrooms placed so that teachers don't have to go halfway across the entire building to use the bathroom.

I second these two:
Bulletin board wall material & lots of electrical outlets.

My room is in the old part of the building and there are only two electrical outlets- one in the middle of each end wall. It's frustrating trying to charge iPads or plug in a lamp or pencil sharpener. They had to put in some outlets back when they put in computers just to plug them in.

I would also love to have some other type of lighting than fluorescent. I hate the glare from those.


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Windows etc.
Old 06-14-2018, 01:33 PM
 
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BIG Kindergarten and first grade rooms to allow for lots of playing and group work!
These rooms should also be very close to bathrooms, or have their own single-use ones.

And, plenty of windows for natural lighting- helps kids concentrate more than fluorescent lights.
Classrooms with no or one window should be banned, imo!
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:27 PM
 
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Lots of electrical outlets throughout the classroom.
A bathroom in each classroom or jack/jill type.
A sink & water fountain
Storage along the walls.....cabinets, counters & closets
Smart Boards located in a place that makes sense.
No carpeting in the classroom
Sound proof cafeteria
Space for copiers around the building
A room dedicated to teachers' needs, i.e. scanner, poster maker, laminator, large quananity [sp]copier
Lockers inside the classroom
Room enough for expanding
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:59 PM
 
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Look up Wiregrass Elementary School in Wesley Chapel FL. It’s not my school but it’s brand new... and gorgeous. There are lots of pictures on their FB Page.


I also would love an indoor gym. They aren’t common in my area in elementary schools and with the heat as well as the rain we get, it would be great to have.

Love this library: https://fehdesign.com/wp-content/upl...Jefferson3.jpg

Also would love open, learning spaces like these that could be utilized:
https://goo.gl/images/DCRG14
https://goo.gl/images/X2KtMr

Things my school has that I like: a sink, water fountain, and restroom for each classroom (restroom in classroom for K-2 and right outside the room for 3-5).

Wish we had: more storage!!!!
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:20 PM
 
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I think storage and outlets are always needed.

But think about the actual day to day of how a school day works.
  • Where will anchor charts be hung up?
  • When you're leaving the room, how will students line up?
  • When teachers have to pop out to make a copy or run to the restroom (obviously with an adult monitoring your class) how will that work? Where is the closest classroom? Copier? Staff Bathroom?
  • What will whole group lessons look like?
  • Also think of scale...5&6th graders are bigger than K&1 and will take up more space. I know we've wished that we had bigger rooms because our kids are bigger. (For us, this means that our kids have to stay in their seats as opposed to getting together in a group for whole group lessons)
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new school
Old 06-14-2018, 05:47 PM
 
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-Walk in closets for storage in every class
-plenty of outlets
-multiple options for plugging in computers (various ports). I can't stand when every room has to be set up exactly the same because of plugs and ports.
-walls that can be stapled
-plenty of wall space for work and charts to be displayed (it shouldn't all be covered with cabinets and boards)
-I would limit the amount of built in shelves for libraries and opt for shelves that can be moved (can you tell that I don't like to be restricted)
-whiteboards and smart boards situated so that there is more than one space for the whole class to gather

I would love to be on the design team for new schools. You're so lucky!
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great ideas!
Old 06-14-2018, 06:55 PM
 
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Thanks for the great ideas! Please keep them coming if you think of anything else. I'm also enjoying checking out the links. I could look at dream schools all day!
One serious concern we have as of now is restrooms. K rooms will each have a bathroom in the room, which is great. Other than that, they're planning one central bathroom (a girls and a boys) on each floor (probably 2 floors) with 3 stalls in each, and that's it! These schools will have almost 700 students...to me, that's ridiculous! Plus, with the layouts being considered, the restrooms would be a hike away from the classrooms. The idea is that they should be close to the center of the building, so they are accessible when events involving the parents &/or community are held and they'll be able to block entry to the classroom areas. I think it's ridiculous to make using the bathroom a major issue on a daily basis when school's in session, just so it's convenient when others are in the building. Hopefully, the teachers will win this battle. We shall see!
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:37 PM
 
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I hope your experience is more positive than mine. Our new school is being built for this coming school year. The architects took up a lot of our time with numerous meetings where we were asked to give input, and they ignored every bit of it and did whatever they wanted. They had a clear vision for what they thought a nice school would look like (of course, not a one of them had any experience in education) and that's how they built it. Our old building was falling apart, but I will actually miss it.

I would fight hard for them to allow room for growth if you can. About five years ago, they rebuilt the secondary schools in our district and made them smaller based on "projected enrollment." When the very wise teachers of course told them that they needed to plan for unexpected growth, they went on about their "research" and "data" which apparently projected the neighborhood would have less kids and enrollment would go down.

As you probably guessed, that's not at all what happened. Two years into having the new building, they had teachers sharing rooms and rotating around (going to whatever room was free because the teacher was on planning period at the time). Of course we begged them to not make the same mistake twice. As you can probably guess again, of course they didn't listen.

They went on about the same "research" that shows enrollment should go down over time. We currently have 3 classes per grade level and that's all they built for in the new building. Our K classes ended the year with almost 30 kids in each one. Just a few more moving in over the summer would trigger a need for another 1st grade section.
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New school
Old 06-15-2018, 05:05 AM
 
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Ditto on outlets

I disliked the amount of built in cupboards and cabinets. There wasn't one long, flat wall to use for a bulletin board or for book shelves. Be judicious with them

Windows you can reach. Seriously, our windows were so high up you had to stand on a chair to open them.

If the buildings are large, have adult only bathrooms in each wing or close to classrooms.

An HVAC system that actually works. It was freeze or fry in my room.

Walls with built in tack board....lots of them!!
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Old 06-15-2018, 05:53 AM
 
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We only have stalled restrooms in the cafeteria. Each restroom has at least 10 stalls. The cafeteria also has the stage, so all community events or school events happen in the cafeteria and bathrooms are right there. There are also doors to all 4 entrances that can shut the cafeteria off from the first of the school.
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Roo: Restrooms
Old 06-15-2018, 05:59 AM
 
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So many admin complain about lost instruction time because of restrooms. They would be foolish to only install one restroom per floor and have 3 stalls. How many classrooms will be on each floor? I think there should be 8 to 10 stalls in each restroom or make smaller ones with 4 to 5. Kids really start playing and getting into trouble when they have to wait for stalls.
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Ideas for new building
Old 06-15-2018, 07:15 AM
 
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A couple more small (conference-type) rooms than you think will be needed. There must be a reasonable place for a parent conference, IEP meeting, individual testing, etc., etc.

Some locking storage in each classroom. Teachers need a secure place to store confidential files so that whoever comes into the room doesn't have access to them. They also need to be able to lock up expensive equipment such as computers, graphing calculators, etc.

A way to control sun coming into the room, both because of glare and because of heat.

Good setup for security. For example, a main entrance where visitor enter a vestibule and then are screened before the door into the main building is opened. Perhaps with a window (sliding glass?) so that the security person can communicate with the visitor, get their ID to check, etc.

Think about how communications between the office and teachers/total school will be handles. PA, panic buttons, alarms, etc.?

Think about sound-absorbing materials to keep noise levels down--but still easy to clean. I'm not a fan of carpeting on school floors. It just doesn't get cleaned enough.
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Old 06-15-2018, 12:44 PM
 
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We'll have 25 1st-5th grade classrooms, and will either be on 2 or 3 floors (undecided now). So maybe 10 classrooms on a floor or so. Right now, we have 10 classrooms for one boy/girl restroom at my current school, but those restrooms have 8-10 stalls. Also, we're in the same hallway as the restrooms, so the kids are never too far away from the classroom if they go without us. I don't like the thought of kids being unsupervised so far away.
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Restrooms
Old 06-16-2018, 05:29 AM
 
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I definitely thing restrooms shouldn't be too far away. Also, are they going to put restrooms near the cafeteria, gym, art room, etc.?
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Old 06-16-2018, 06:08 AM
 
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TEACHER BATHROOMS!!!! We have one teacher bathroom (1 toilet) that is shared with 5 grade levels.

The K/1 hallway has 2 for just them. When we asked for more for our hallway, in the redesign, we were shot down. Of course, it was the admin. (who has their own potty) who was making that decision.

It's no wonder we get UTI's frequently.
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Old 06-16-2018, 07:42 AM
 
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I had carpeted risers built in the corner of my room. This was prior to SmartBoards, so the TV was used for lessons I created on Hyperstudio. It worked wonderfully well. When students finished their work, they could read on the risers or do small practice activities. The rule was NO TALKING on the risers during free time.
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My newer school
Old 06-17-2018, 06:15 AM
 
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My school was rebuilt a few years ago. It's gorgeous but there are a few things I miss about the old building.

- Thick, concrete block walls that muffled sounds from neighboring classrooms.
- Wide halls where two, even three, classes could walk side-by-side.
- Trees to shade the building.
- The old building took better advantage of natural light. Our new building has most windows on either the east or west side, and it gets very hot during the day. I have to keep my blinds closed most of the afternoon because it gets so warm with my west-facing windows.

There are a few things that are a big improvement.

- Much larger library with small classrooms for meetings or group instruction. Wide open space with tables and chairs and outlets in the floor to recharge laptops.
- Cafeteria has two entrances and two serving lines so students have more time to eat.
- Restroom in each classroom.
- Water fountain and sink in each classroom.
- Adult-only restrooms on each floor.
- Much bigger car rider loop so traffic doesn't back up onto the street.
- A lot more parking.
- Much better building security.

The new building was put up right next to the old building and took about a year to construct. It was fun to watch it happen and really not that disruptive or noisy. Our old building was torn down over the summer and turned into a parking lot.
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bathrooms
Old 07-05-2018, 02:33 PM
 
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My biggest suggestion is to have a bathroom, water fountain, and sink in each room. We ahve to keep our doors locked and my bathroom is outside the room, and it takes times to open the door for every kid that wants to go to the bathroom. Also, we've had situations where the school was on a lock out situation where we can keep teaching but kids can't leave the room. Well having the bathroom outside the room becomes a challenge.
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Kindergarten playground
Old 07-05-2018, 10:10 PM
 
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Make sure they have some sort of canopy over their playground or their equipment. Whenever they build a new playground they NEVER seem to include shade. Tomorrow will be 112 degrees and I can't imagine sliding on the slides. Also they never seem to build a new playground large enough to cover more than 1 class at a time. Our regular playground has lots of grass and trees but the Kinder one is all cement and tiny for 100+ kinder kids.
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