Please sound off on this important topic!
One design I felt was very cool; it has a green roof classes can go to, plus terrariums and a large auditorium. However, as we saw with HMS and the "open concept" design, what's "cool" now doesn't mean it'll remain "cool" for the entire life span of the building. Plus, I don't know how practical it would be.
Another design had the main building, plus three "houses" connected to it, one for each grade level. I find this interesting, but not in a good way. I also talked to the architects about student capacity: 825 students. I'm sorry, but that's pathetic. HMS has frequently had over 825 students for the last decade. So I asked how easy it would be to expand, and add portables. They looked at me like I had three heads. They told me that they had projected 800-850 students. How far into the future did these projections go? 5 years? 10? And for a building that should last 40+ years, that's unacceptable. Should the district get a large influx of students, where will we put them? Build a third middle school?
The third design was probably the most boring, yet most practical. Lots of classrooms, plus an auditorium & gymnasium/fitness lab available for public use. However, on the blueprints, there's a student locker room on the opposite side of the building from the gym. There was nothing in the immediate vicinity the locker room would be used for. So I asked one of the architects, and he agreed that the placement didn't make sense, so he gestured for another architects with the firm to take a look. She said that it was so that the public couldn't look into it. Um… you can still attach it to the gym, and have it inaccessible to the general public. To make it worse, there were already locker rooms attached to the gym, apparently for public use. ?!? What the heck were they thinking? Plus, it would take around 1-2 minutes to go to the locker rooms to change into gym clothes, another 1-2 minutes to go back to the gym, plus all that again to change back into regular clothes at the end of class. So in a 42 minute period, students lose about 1/8 of the class just to go to & from the locker room, which doesn't include actual changing time, which probably gets closer to 1/4 of the period lost.
All designs had similar issues though: where are the day-today, behind-the-scenes stuff? Where's the elevator? Is it in an accessible place? Where are the staff bathrooms, staff lounge, copy/work rooms, custodial work areas, IT room? The kind of stuff where if you're there once, it's a minor inconvenience. But for students & staff there all day, everyday, it's a nightmare. All of the architects said the same things: this is very early drafts, and can change. I hope they get input on the needs, and not just from central office administrators. They really need to actively get input from the building staff & students/parents. Plus, don't go with what's "cool": go with what's practical and lasts for the 40+ year life of the school. Plus, make contingencies for if/when we get a lot more students, and parking.
On a separate matter, I heard that the 6th graders were finally able to hold classes in the new portables. Woo-hoo! Unfortunately, with the rain, there were already leaks in each room, along with the ramp. Are you (expletive) kidding me? What bozos are running this circus? Fortunately, I hear it was small drips in the classrooms, but still leaks nonetheless. We really need more competent people here.