Impact on Learning

The March issue of School Planning & Management is one of my favorites because it features our Impact on Learning program. It has always been my personal belief that the facilities our students attend have an impact on their health, safety and ability to learn. I don’t need to read a study to tell me that I need light to see, heat to stay warm or clean air to breathe. Common sense tells me that. It also tells me that poorly maintained, overcrowded classrooms or temporary trailers are not conducive to learning. Why then do facilities end up at the bottom of our wish list?

Adequate school facilities are not a luxury. They are an integral part of a good education — an education necessary if our students are to have a bright future. The effect of a good school is felt not only by the students, but by the community as well.

But how can we create good schools with limited funds? By spending wisely and making every dollar count. If you read our last month’s construction report, you may have noticed that schools and universities are shifting their focus from building new, to repairing, replacing and retrofitting the facilities that they have. This means looking at purchases through a different lens and taking into account more than the lowest sale price.  

A noticeable “ripple effect” of advantages can result from a simple, well-thought-out change. For example, 21st-century learning requires a collaborative environment. The selection of flexible furniture will support varied teaching and learning styles, encourage collaboration and blur the lines between formal and informal learning spaces. Proper lighting and lighting controls can save energy and facilitate the use of various audio-visual technologies that will improve learning. Healthy environment means less sick days and more learning. Building green saves energy, conserves water and creates a more healthful facility. Superior facilities help attract students and inspire excellence.

Every decision we make has an impact on learning. We can guarantee that our students will have a safe, secure and nurturing place in which to learn by making informed decisions based on more the lowest cost. If you don’t have funding to do it all … add to the plus column by improving your educational environments one piece at a time.  

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