My sons attended an elementary school that was built at the same time as my neighborhood was established, in 1961. Nearly a half-century later, the building was on the district list of schools to be renovated with a bond issue. Anyone who attended the school or worked there could see the building badly needed to be renovated and expanded.
Still, one parent told me she voted against the bond issue because she didn’t like big schools. No matter that both of our boys attended the fifth and sixth grades in portable classrooms and walked through rain and mud to the main building to use the bathrooms.
I don’t have to tell school board members how difficult it can be to convince some community members to support building project bonds. People sometimes vote with their emotions and against their best interests.
We know that infrastructure and facilities are key responsibilities of school board members. We also know that construction and renovation are not unnecessary extravagances. A plethora of research on the connection between student performance and facilities has been done over the years.
Students, teachers, and staff perform better and are happier in well-lit, well-maintained classrooms and buildings. Better air quality and airflow mean students and teachers aren’t missing days because of asthma or other respiratory issues. Good acoustics allow students to hear the teacher more clearly and save teachers’ voices. The state of the building influences teacher and student morale.
In this issue’s cover story, “Infrastructure Best Practices,” Associate Editor Michelle Healy talks to district administrators and those in the facilities field to get ideas on the best ways to handle ongoing infrastructure issues. Contributing Editor Glenn Cook’s “Construction Stories” focuses on the lessons learned by three districts in different parts of the country.
Frequent contributor Robin Flanigan’s “Environment and Achievement” provides some data points on the relationship between student achievement and the state of school buildings in case you need to persuade a community member to support funding upcoming renovations.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Until next issue. . .