MFP Restart

Master Facilities Plan Restart
Posted on 01/27/2022
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Two girls building tower with school buildings in backgroundAfter pressing pause on Lakota’s Master Facilities Planning (MFP) process last spring, the Board of Education has reengaged, and expanded, the committee to build a plan to protect the district’s most important physical assets in a way that supports the education of its 17,000 students. This work kicked off at the Board of Education’s Jan. 24 work session.

 

Work on the MFP has been paused twice since it began in 2019. First because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then again last spring due to expiring board terms for two committee members. The district decided to hold any further work until the new board was in place. At January’s school board organizational meeting, it was announced that all five board members will now be a part of the MFP committee, a change from the previous two representatives. The committee will meet on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. While the public is welcome to observe the meetings at Plains Junior School, public participation and public comment are not included during committee meetings.

 

“A Master Facilities Plan is a strategic look at facilities and educational delivery models that will impact the district for the next 20, 30, 40 years or more,” said Lakota’s Chief Operations Officer, Chris Passarge. “These plans involve broad community participation and provide a blueprint for the community for plans the district may execute into the future.”

 

Community engagement has played a key role throughout this process. Prior to the pandemic, the committee had engaged the community to gather feedback through public meetings, focus groups and ThoughtExchange surveys. The committee was preparing to share possible long-term options with the Board and the community for feedback during the spring of 2020, but stopped its work when the pandemic forced the district to shift to remote learning in March. Last year, after returning to in-person learning and introducing Lakota’s Virtual Learning Option, the committee reengaged with the community to gather feedback about lessons learned during COVID-19 that the district should apply to its MFP process. 

 

Passarge shared with the committee that community engagement will continue to be a key component of the work as the process moves forward, to which Board President Lynda O’Connor agreed.

 

“This is a very important decision that will require a vast amount of our resources,” said O’Connor. “We are looking forward to gathering feedback from our community. It is imperative that they have a voice in this process. We plan to create several opportunities for our community members to weigh in as we continue to build the future of education for our students.”

 

The in-depth process of creating a new MFP is part of Lakota’s strategic plan. The last comprehensive MFP for the district was done in the early 2000s, with the final scheduled work being completed in 2009. Some of the work during this time included:

  • The creation of East Freshman to create two ninth-grade buildings instead of one;
  • The construction of Wyandot, Endeavor and Union early childhood and elementary schools; and 
  • Renovations and additions at several schools. 

 

“A master plan is not a static document that just sits there,” said Passarge. Much like a strategic plan, “it is a living breathing document that changes as the needs (of the district) change.” Since 2009, the last MFP has been adjusted in several ways, including:

  • The construction of safe and secure entrances at 11 buildings;
  • Replacing several HVAC systems when failing and updating others as needed;
  • Introducing all-day kindergarten, resulting in Heritage and Hopewell shifting to early childhood schools from elementary; and
  • The reimagination of learning spaces throughout the district like Lakota’s innovation hubs, Cyber Academy and IncubatorEDU has occurred to meet the changing needs of education.

 

At Monday’s meeting, Passarge explained the work the committee has done since forming in 2019:

  • Completed a facility assessment to review architectural needs, infrastructure and systems, educational adequacy, facility surveys and site circulation;
  • Evaluated of building capacity, programs and educational capacity, enrollment, boundary and attendance areas and grade configuration; and
  • Held envisioning sessions around building trends, educational delivery, educational programing and engagement.

 

At the first committee meeting on Feb. 7, the group will conduct a deep dive into possible plan options. Passarge’s slide presentation is available on the MFP website. The community is encouraged to visit the site often to stay updated on the process and engagement opportunities.