Report and Recommendations
In August 2014, the Edina School Board approved a 24-member Next Generation Facilities Advisory Task Force (FATF) comprised of a broad cross-section of interests of the Edina Public Schools, including students, parents, staff, key community stakeholder groups, and residents-at-large.
The purpose of the FATF was to analyze pertinent information and consider options for district facilities to meet the needs of Edina Public Schools’ Next Generation learners. In assessing both short- and long-term facility needs, the FATF would then make recommendations to the administration and School Board to address these needs and enhance the community’s investment.To accomplish its charge, the FATF analyzed, among other things, current and projected student enrollment, current district facility conditions and capacities, and projected future facility needs in alignment with the district’s Next Generation of Edina Public Schools Strategic Plan.
The FATF met six times in August and September to review data, develop options and reach consensus on several facility improvement recommendations. During the 12 plus hours of FATF meetings, members engaged in small and large group discussions, plus additional individual work outside of the meetings reviewing data and touring facilities. FATF meeting discussions were open and honest, inclusive of diverse perspectives and encouraging productive debate on issues critical to their work.
The FATF reached consensus on the following recommendations, all of which are detailed later in this report.
1. Safety and Security Improvements District-wide – The average age of Edina Public Schools’ facilities is over 40 years, which ranks the district in the bottom quartile of Minnesota districts that qualify for deferred maintenance funding. As such, the district’s schools and program spaces were built for a different time, with a different approach to safety and security. A security audit conducted by the district in 2013 identified recommendations to improve safety and security in all buildings, which included improvements of policies, protocols, staffing and training, as well as key facility enhancements to improve safety and security while still maintaining a welcoming environment. The FATF recommends advancing these facility improvements to enhance security, including renovating entrances/vestibules for controlled access and including zone security systems.
2. Maintenance Improvements – The district’s current Alternative Facilities Plan includes significant infrastructure improvements (roofing, heating and ventilation, building envelope), yet additional maintenance needs remain. The FATF recommends incorporating these improvements into the various improvements to maximize resources and minimize disruption to learning.
3. Elementary Improvements – FATF members agree that in order to promote more Next Generation Learning, the district needed to construct more flexible learning spaces that allow for different learning styles and instructional needs, both for students and staff. Such recommended improvements include a variety of instructional spaces to accommodate individual, small and large group learning. Adaptable furniture improvements are also recommended to replace deteriorating current inventory and allow for better alignment with space improvements.
4. Middle School Improvements – As with the elementary level improvements, FATF members agree that in order to promote more Next Generation Learning, the district needed to construct more flexible learning spaces that allow for a variety of learning styles and instructional needs. Such recommended improvements include a variety of instructional spaces to accommodate individual, small and large group learning. Adaptable furniture improvements are also recommended to replace deteriorating current inventory and allow for better alignment with space improvements. With the approved future district grade configuration that moves grade 9 to the high school, the middle schools have an opportunity to repurpose current spaces into those that would be more flexible and provide for a variety of learning/instruction opportunities. Such opportunities will provide a more comprehensive middle school experience appropriate for young adolescents, allowing for more exploration and content integration.
5. High School Improvements - As with the elementary and middle level improvements, FATF members recommend more flexible learning spaces that allow for a variety of learning styles and instructional approaches in order to promote more Next Generation Learning. Such recommended improvements include a variety of instructional spaces to accommodate individual, small and large group learning. Adaptable furniture improvements are also recommended to replace deteriorating current inventory and allow for better alignment with space improvements. With the approved future district grade configuration that moves grade 9 from the middle schools to the high school, the district will need to construction additional space at EHS equivalent to 30 teaching/learning stations. FATF members recommended that new construction not just be traditional classroom space, but rather more innovative learning spaces to meet the district’s strategic vision.
6. Athletic / Activity Field Improvements – After reviewing current athletic/activity field space, including comparisons with other Lake Conference districts and assessing current conditions of fields, the FATF recommends that significant improvements were needed to address overuse and participant safety. Recommendations include replacing some current grass turf fields on both the East and West Campuses.
7. Early Childhood Improvements – Given the growing evidence of the impact of early interventions on academic achievement, and the district’s need to address a stagnant achievement gap between student groups, the FATF recommends allocating financial resources to address enhanced early learning programming. It was noted that specific improvements should be based on current programming discussions occurring as part of the district’s Birth to Grade 5 Strategic Study, which are slated for identification by spring 2015. Current Early Childhood Family Education / Early Childhood Special Education program needs include minor improvements at the Edina Community Center. However, future considerations could include additional programming locations in different areas of the community.
Additionally, the FATF considered a recommendation for an activity center at Edina High School. While the group did not reach consensus, there was majority support for the activity center concept, with dissenting voices noting concerns about prioritization of need given current fiscal limitations.
8. Activity Center – With the future addition of 9th grade student to the high school, there exists a need for more health and physical education instructional spaces at Edina High School. Space is also limited for co-curricular activities, with many athletic activities utilizing spaces at district middle schools after school, and academic co-curricular activities, such as Robotics, piecing together various spaces throughout the school. An activity center could accommodate space needs for curricular programs during the day, co-curricular programs after school, and community activities in evening and on weekends. Furthermore, concerns about accessibility to the lower athletic fields could be addressed via the activity center’s elevator.
The report also includes addition options, including a potential activity center at Edina High School, forwarded by the FATF for administrative study, as well as some key considerations for the administration and School Board to consult as it continues to develop a Next Generation Facilities Plan.