Master Facilities Planning Recap

Master Facilities Planning: Involving the Community
Posted on 03/09/2021
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MFP results“When thinking about the future of education, what lessons have you learned through the COVID-19 pandemic that we should consider in our master facilities planning (MFP)?” This question was asked of our parents, students, staff and community members in the district’s recent ThoughtExchange survey.


“The last comprehensive facilities plan was completed in the early 2000s,” said Chief Operating Officer Chris Passarge. “Just like you review things like the roof or HVAC system in your home, we must do that for our 25 buildings. In addition to being equipped to handle signs of deterioration, we also need to make sure that our learning spaces match the education we want to provide Lakota students, both now and in the future.”


While the facilities planning process was underway last year, the work was paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MFP committee, made up of district leaders, school board members and VSWC Architects, began meeting in November and has begun to re-engage the community in the process.


“We want our community to have a voice in the planning process,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “We appreciate the time and effort people are giving by participating in our surveys and attending meetings.” Miller also stressed the importance of considering how we want our students to be educated as part of the process. “While looking at the structure of our buildings is clearly a priority, it’s also important to think about the educational experience of our students. We need to think about our learning spaces and ask ourselves if they are the most conducive to the way our students learn.”


One of the ways the district is gathering feedback is by its recent series of community conversations with parents, staff and students. Four meetings over a three-day period were held to discuss what lessons have been learned about education because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants reflected on what they would like to see continue in the future. “While the topic of this community conversation was not chosen for facilities planning, it is timely and informative as part of this process,” said Miller. 


The district also sought feedback from all community members through its recent ThoughtExchange. Nearly 220 people participated in the online survey, with 140 thoughts being shared. Participants are asked to review thoughts of other participants and, using a 5-star rating system, share whether they agree or disagree. Thoughts were shared about buildings, class sizes, learning spaces and more. 


The top three thoughts centered around fine arts and extracurricular activities. Number four focused on continuing the use of outdoor learning spaces, with smaller class sizes rounding out the top five. Themes that emerged from the responses also included flexible learning spaces, meeting the social-emotional needs of students and technology. Click here to view the results of the survey.


The community is invited to join a Zoom webinar on Tuesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. Tracy Richter, an educational visioning expert, will share what members of the MFP focus groups have shared about the impact of learning during a pandemic on facilities. Click here to view the Master Facilities Planning webpage for more information.