Sep 16, 2021 11:01 AM

Hays bond committee gets glimpse of how new, renovated schools could look

Posted Sep 16, 2021 11:01 AM
Members of the Hays community bond committee discuss priorities for new or renovated spaces that could be included in a bond issue. Cristina Janney/Hays Post
Members of the Hays community bond committee discuss priorities for new or renovated spaces that could be included in a bond issue. Cristina Janney/Hays Post

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

Discussions about a future bond issue for Hays USD 489 on Monday and Tuesday focused on space.

Members of the community bond committee Tuesday viewed examples of other schools that its architect, DLR Group, has built or renovated recently.

They also discussed priorities for Hays schools.

Among some of the priorities listed by the group included adaptable spaces, flexible furniture, maker spaces, group spaces (an auditorium), media labs and learning suites. 

Some community members also emphasized the need to create space that can be used by the community during non-school hours.

Much of the discussion Tuesday night revolved around what new or renovated buildings in Hays could look like.

Ian Kilpatrick, DLR K-12 design leader, shared photos from DLR projects in Kansas and across the country.

Recent bond improvements at peer schools

Garden City auditorium. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Garden City auditorium. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Dodge City athletic complex. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Dodge City athletic complex. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Dodge City small group workspaces. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Dodge City small group workspaces. Photo courtesy of DLR.

Diverse spaces for diverse kids

Kilpatrick said catering to individual variability accounts for 50 percent of student success. The physical environment accounts for 16 percent with 37 percent being attributed to teacher effectiveness.

Diverse spaces are needed for diverse learners, he said.

"I use the analogy that no one wants a house with 11 bedrooms and nothing else," he said. "You want a house with diverse spaces, because no one wants to cook breakfast in a bedroom. Schools are no different. 

"We want to make sure they have all the environments whether it's career and tech, whether it's collaborative learning, whether it's that social collision space for our learners and our educators to be supported in their day to day," Kilpatrick said.

Photo courtesy of DLR.
Photo courtesy of DLR.

Kilpatrick said school rooms need to be designed with adequate space and furniture to facilitate their functions.

"Hands-on learning is critical to [students'] learning and their launch into the real world," he said.

This is why some schools are establishing labs where students can create projects, as well as work with technology and robotics. 

Other design considerations include sightlines, acoustics, doors and furniture.

Furniture is something every single student touches every day and can be an inexpensive way to adapt spaces, Kilpatrick said.

This is a small group workroom at a school in Baton Rouge. The walls and tabletop in this room are made of whiteboard material and can be written on. Photo courtesy of DLR
This is a small group workroom at a school in Baton Rouge. The walls and tabletop in this room are made of whiteboard material and can be written on. Photo courtesy of DLR

Kilpatrick said everyone is a different size and improperly sized seating can affect student learning.

Photo courtesy of DLR.
Photo courtesy of DLR.

Kilpatrick said if students have a sense of ownership at their school they are more likely to engage in their learning.

"Sense of ownership — we've talked about this at the high school," he said. "How do students have ownership of their space? How can they have pride in their space? How can the community have pride? 

"That goes a lot to the diverse environments that we spoke to earlier," he said. "You want to make sure there's a space where every learner feels comfortable and feels engaged and owns that space in a really prideful way."

This is a classroom in a Kearney, Neb., middle school that had been padlocked and was no longer in use. Photo courtesy of DLR.
This is a classroom in a Kearney, Neb., middle school that had been padlocked and was no longer in use. Photo courtesy of DLR.
The renovation of the space cost about $1 million, most of which was spent on an elevator and stairs. Students and teachers like the new space so much they don't want to use their regular classrooms, Ian Kilpatrick, DLR designer, said. Photo courtesy of DLR.
The renovation of the space cost about $1 million, most of which was spent on an elevator and stairs. Students and teachers like the new space so much they don't want to use their regular classrooms, Ian Kilpatrick, DLR designer, said. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Ottawa High School before renovation. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Ottawa High School before renovation. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Ottawa High School after renovation. The Ottawa bond cost $6 3 million and included a new elementary school, renovations at their high school and security upgrades. Photo courtesy of DLR.
Ottawa High School after renovation. The Ottawa bond cost $6 3 million and included a new elementary school, renovations at their high school and security upgrades. Photo courtesy of DLR.

Kilpatrick said DLR conducts research on student engagement before and after bond projects and has found engagement increased for both students and teachers after new schools were built or schools were renovated.

Hays falls behind peers

DLR discussed other schools in the state who have passed bonds in the last 10 years. In the Western Athletic Conference, which Hays is a member, three of the five schools — Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal — have passed bonds in the last 10 years. Great Bend is currently working on a bond. It last passed a bond about 12 years ago.

The schools in red have passed bonds in the last 10 years. Great Bend passed a bond about 12 years ago and is working on another bond proposal now.
The schools in red have passed bonds in the last 10 years. Great Bend passed a bond about 12 years ago and is working on another bond proposal now.

Below is a list of 5A schools. All of those in red have also passed bonds in the last 10 years.

A list of 5A schools. The schools listed in red have passed bond issues in the last 10 years.
A list of 5A schools. The schools listed in red have passed bond issues in the last 10 years.