DeJONG Names Top 10 Trends in School Facility Planning

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DeJONG, one of the country's foremost educational planning firms, has identified the most recent trends in educational facility planning.

However, we can agree upon one thing: planning future public schools should be based upon identifying global, societal and education trends.

DeJONG, one of the country's foremost educational planning firms, has identified the most recent trends in educational facility planning.

William S. DeJong, Ph.D., REFP and CEO of the firm, said it is imperative educators recognize changing attitudes and practices to better understand how they will impact students' environment. "The debate over what constitutes an effective school facility will continue for the foreseeable future," he explained. "However, we can agree upon one thing: planning future public schools should be based upon identifying global, societal and education trends."

Top Ten Trends

1.    Declining Enrollment

Americans have already experienced the Baby Boom, Baby Bust, Echo Boom and now the Echo Bust. The overall decline is currently working its way through elementary and middle schools and will move through high schools within the next 10 years. There is tough work ahead, including downsizing and rightsizing staff, budgets and facilities.

2.    Life beyond No Child Left Behind

The past decade has been dominated by testing and meeting Adequate Yearly Progress guidelines, with a focus on augmenting English, math and science education. Unfortunately, the social sciences, arts and humanities have suffered. This does not mean testing and accountability aren't important. However, as we move into the future, we will realize our country's competitive edge in a global economy is creativity and innovation, which are derived, in part, from the arts.

3.    Any Place, Any Time Learning

With advances in technology, learning can occur 24/7/365. High speed access is available in the home, on the streets, in malls and even on school buses. Students have always learned outside of school buildings, and new technological possibilities will challenge traditional school facilities even further.

4.    Flexible Buildings

Multiple forms of program delivery are evolving: self-contained, project based, teaming, schools within schools, magnet/thematic schools and many others. School facility designs must allow for pedagogical changes, which means the concept of flexible buildings is moving to totally new definitions. With changing demographics, the advent of charter schools, an inability to make long-term decisions and uncertain futures, new forms of schools must emerge in which the same building (with minor alterations) can become an elementary school, middle school or even a small high school.

5.    Global Focus

Jobs that have gone off shore are not coming back. China is beginning to require schools to teach English. More than 10% of all of construction cranes in the world are in Dubai. Now fast forward 20 years … will the United States still be the center of the universe? Maybe, maybe not; it depends on how we address these challenges. We need to be globally focused.

6.    Modernizing Democracy

New forms of community involvement, collaboration and decision making are evolving though Web-based questionnaires, blogs and online community forums. A wide variety of independent school boards and/or committees are being considered as more schools become thematic or charter-based. Facility planning is becoming increasingly transparent as a result of new technologies and increased access to data.

7.    Green Buildings/Sustainability

Green buildings are on the radar screen. Future schools design will incorporate energy efficiency and a greater concern about the environment. New laws and standards are on the horizon too. For example, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

8.    Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

GIS has evolved as the new software standard for facility planning and management. It provides new ways to visually display complex data so it is more understandable. GIS is increasingly used for demographic planning and for visualizing facility options, such as school closures or alternatives for redistricting.

9.    Safety and Security

The tragedy at Virginia Tech reminds us how vitally important safety and security are. The way a building is laid out or how the program is organized have the biggest impact on safety and security. This is far more important than active security systems like motion detectors or surveillance cameras.

10.    Renovations, Modernizations and Replacements

School buildings built in the 1950s and 60s during the post WWII baby boom era are aging. Unfortunately these were not our finest buildings. The process has begun to fully modernize or replace these facilities. This will continue for the next 15 years.

DeJONG is one of the nation's leading educational facility planning firms. They position school districts, states, and nations to develop quality learning environments through a systematic process that maximizes the use of data and community participation. The firm's goal is to empower people with the tools they need to make smart, practical decisions for students on an ongoing basis. Located in Dublin, Ohio, DeJONG is an organization of problem solvers who are experienced in handling all aspects of facility planning. They know the best practices and bring better processes to the table to save clients time and money. DeJONG's success rate is high and their work has lasting, positive effects on school districts of all types and sizes. Plans get implemented, bond issues get passed and great facilities are built. The DeJONG name continues to be synonymous with excellence in facility planning at home and abroad.

Media Contact:    
Debra Young
Paul Werth Associates
(614) 848-6652


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