- Nov 12, 2019
Renovating educational facilities in the private K-12 school sector requires a specialized, strategic approach. Now, more than ever, K-12 schools are focused on creating safe optimal learning environments that can adapt to changes in educational trends, accommodate growing numbers of students, and keep up with new technologies. Critical to the success of a school renovation project is the development of a strategic plan that prioritizes the needs of the school’s most important stakeholders: its students. Key factors to consider include:
Creative approaches to scheduling can help ensure that a school can maintain the learning environment and minimize disruption to school operations and its students during construction. An experienced building partner can work with the school to develop a phased approach to construction that accounts for the academic calendar, special events or school activities, and takes full advantage of summer recesses and school breaks. Early obtainment of critical permits can help fast-track summer projects and smart procurement planning that includes early bid packages for long lead items should help a renovation project to run smoothly. Phasing should ensure absolute minimal impacts to students especially with respect to access to specific facilities or classrooms, while also allowing for the project to progress. Being disciplined about scheduling is paramount as key dates on a school’s calendar must be met.
Safety and Security
Renovating during the academic school year requires a thoroughly considered safety and security plan that includes clear and effective communications regarding construction updates, as well as measures to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors. Any school project must have strictly controlled access for workers and deliveries. Regular updates on construction and traffic impacts can be provided through a website, emails, school bulletins, social media, signage, among other channels.
Best-in-class facilities should reflect a school’s culture and values, while also being mindful of operational cost impacts. Smart building solutions, from strategic scheduling to materials, can help schools devote resources to education as opposed to capital costs. Existing conditions surveys not only help ensure that there are no challenges during construction, they can also help manage costs given there is a full picture of issues that need addressing prior to commencement of construction activities.
The Right Construction Partner
K-12 renovation projects often involve multiple facilities such as performing arts centers, STEM labs, media centers or libraries, and dining halls. Some projects may involve construction of new state-of-the-art facilities employing new technologies or energy efficiency design standards, others may be renovation projects for historic buildings. Private K-12 projects demand a deep expertise and broad experience in managing construction for multi-faceted facilities in order to ensure a project’s success.
Moreover, private K-12 schools pride themselves on having distinct cultures and values. As a school’s partner, the construction manager should understand a school’s unique culture and a deep commitment to their educational mission. Professionalism, transparency and communication are essential for working with a private school’s staff and board.
A construction project can also be leveraged as a unique learning opportunity for students. Student engagement programs such as guided tours with virtual reality headsets, technical presentations, assembly progress reports, and student reporting on project milestones for the school’s communications outlets can turn a project into a real-life learning experience.
A good construction manager looks at a project from the student’s perspective. This requires a holistic project approach from using materials that can endure student wear and tear to safety and security measures. Thoughtful planning that includes smart scheduling, respect for a school’s culture and a student-first focus will set up a private K-12 renovation project for success.