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June 17, 2009

School Size

The Mississippi School Design Guidelines recommend the following school sizes:

For smaller school districts:

Elementary: 300-400 students
Middle School: 300-600 students
High School: 400-800 students

For larger school districts:

Elementary: 300-400 students
Middle School: 500-600 students
High School: 800-1000 students

According to the MSDG, "most research supports these numbers."

The New York Times has an interesting article following NYC's attempts to retire large schools and replace them with smaller schools. The headline is somewhat misleading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/nyregion/17small.html?hpw

From the actual report:

http://www.newschool.edu/milano/nycaffairs/publications_schools_thenewmarketplace_secondarticle.aspx

July 24, 2009

School Design Guidelines

When EDI performed the research which lead to the Mississippi School Design Guidelines, North Carolina and Ohio apparently had the best guidelines.

Today, the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) maintains a valuable website:

http://www.osfc.state.oh.us/

The National Academy of Sciences report on green schools is worth reviewing. Go to the OSFC website, click on the library tab, click on green schools, and then scroll down until you find "resources".

August 18, 2009

Beautiful Schools

When one considers all of the adjectives (safe, accessible, high-achieving) commonly applied to schools, the word "beautiful" might not necessarily come to mind. The Mississippi School Design Guidelines, however, opens with the challenge to design beautiful schools. And while this might sound corny, the idea is an old one. The Western world's first architectural theoretician, the Roman architect Vitruvius, wrote that all architecture should display three qualities:

Firmness (structural stability and integrity)
Commodity (usefulness)
Delight

Although "delight" and "beauty" might not mean the same thing (and certainly not the same thing to different people), the bigger idea conveyed by Vitruvius and echoed by the MSDG is clear: our buildings -- our schools -- should do more than just stand up and perform a function. Our children and our communities deserve better.

The following link to the MSDG contains the section on Beautiful Schools:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

September 3, 2009

Schools as the Community Face

A school building can have a very positive (or equally negative) impact on the perceptions of a community. According to the Mississippi School Design Guidelines (MSDG):

As the most expensive and prominent public building in most small towns or city neighborhoods, the school must communicate its role in the community.... A part of the responsibility in the design of a school building is to be a positive and prominent symbol in the community.

A link to the applicable MSDG section:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

September 18, 2009

Community Designed Schools

Many school districts approach construction projects from the top down. The school district and project architects meet, a design is developed, and the design is presented to the community.

While this process is relatively simple for those involved, the project team runs the risk of alienating those outside the process and missing the potential wisdom, experience, and expertise of the larger community.

The MSDG discusses the concept of Community Designed Schools. This process, while potentially messier, is also potentially valuable, not just for selling a bond issue to a community, but also for designing a better school.

A link to the appropriate section of the MSDG:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

November 9, 2009

Neighborhood Schools

Locating a school is one of the most challenging issues when planning a school. A good decision (or a bad decision) can affect a community for half a century or longer.

The Mississippi School Design Guidelines suggests that designers and owners consider three broad categories of information when locating a school:

1. Community Circumstances -- How the school can improve the wider community.
2. School System Needs -- How the location of the new or newly renovated school can improve the overall capabilities of the school district.
3. Site Selection Criteria -- The qualities of the site itself.

Follow this link to the appropriate MSDG section:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

April 20, 2010

Neighborhood Schools II

Usually, the single most important decision concerning a new school is the location of the school.

The Mississippi School Design Guidelines says the following:

-- First of all, schools are the heart of the community as well as centers of education.
-- Secondly, site-planning decisions can cost or save money up-front and over the long run.
-- Thirdly, location of the school can reinforce or work against a community’s plans for future growth and development.
-- Finally, a school’s location affects all citizens; it mirrors local values and pride.

Review the Neighborhood Schools chapter of the MSDG for more information on siting schools:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

June 22, 2010

Community of Learners

What is the size and composition of the ideal school? This is a difficult question, which, unfortunately, cannot be easily answered. However, the Mississippi School Design Guidelines offers some helpful advice:

1. Any combination of grades from K-8 is acceptable; however, high school (grades 9-12) should be separate from K-8.

2. Research generally indicates that smaller schools are better than larger schools.

3. Not surprisingly, smaller classes are better than larger classes.

See the MSDG for more details:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

July 27, 2010

Schools That Share Spaces

A section in the Mississippi School Design Guidelines discusses the advantages of schools sharing spaces. This can work both ways -- the school may borrow space or lend space. Perhaps a vocational course is taught at a local business; or, conversely, perhaps the school allows a community organization to use its gym during Wednesday evenings.

Obviously, people who used shared spaces must work together to overcome the inevitable logistical issues. However, if conflicts are managed, sharing spaces with the community can bring a school closer to the community.

See the section on Network of Shared Spaces for more information:

http://www.edi.msstate.edu/guidelines/pdf/schools_in_everyday_life.pdf

About MSDG

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Educational Design Institute in the MSDG category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Money is the previous category.

Safety & Security is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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