The New Schools Construction Advisory Board, which has been tasked with guiding the work of the rebuilding of schools in the Territory, recently engaged the public for its input and is now honing in on specific elements that would redefine the future of Virgin Islands' public education.
Department of Education Architect Chaneel Callwood identified the top issues that were brought to light from the public meetings held last October: environmental sustainability, flexible scheduling, school funding/district finances, and school safety.
The advisory board, which is focused on the execution of quality structures within a reasonable timeline, was introduced to DLR Group, the consultants who will be helping the Department of Education with the facilities master planning process for the new public schools.
In an assessment of all Department of Education buildings, the DLR Group identified six to eight generic building types. Part of the transformation of the capacity of the Department and its schools relies on the configuration of its learning and working spaces.
“Thoughtful design helps teachers and students to be more effective in their learning environments,” said Jim French, a DLR representative. “Our goal as designers is to understand your goals of forming more well-rounded learners.”
The consulting firm presented examples of schools they had built across the United States and exposed the advisory board to various nontraditional school and classroom layouts that encourage exploration, collaboration, and community.
In planning for Virgin Islands schools, Pam Flufferman of the DLR Group, explained that the design guidelines in the facilities master plan serves to help align unique design solutions with identified concerns or aspirations while being considerate on budget limits.
During the month of March, the New Schools Advisory Board will host a second series of public meetings with local schools in order to share status updates and continue gaining input on the construction of the territory’s new public schools.