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Developing a Master Facilities Plan | GUEST OPINION
A group of Arlington Public Schools stakeholders including parents, community members and staff, will soon begin the process of developing a Master Facilities Plan (MFP). The MFP will be a comprehensive evaluation of our schools, support facilities, properties and major assets; enrollment trends; educational space needs; health and safety of our students, staff and public; and the needs of our community. The MFP will be used to advise the School Board of our current and future facility needs for the next decade.
Arlington Public Schools operates nine schools: Arlington High School, Weston High School, Stillaguamish Valley School, Haller Middle School, Post Middle School, Kent Prairie Elementary, Eagle Creek Elementary, Presidents Elementary, and Pioneer Elementary. Other buildings included are three support facilities: District Office, Transportation, and Child Nutrition and Support Services. In addition, the District owns one closed school (Trafton Elementary), an aging wooden stadium (Hartz Field) and several parcels of land (mostly donated timberland). Weston High School and Transportation are two facilities currently leased from the Arlington Airport.
The MFP team will use the expertise of architects, engineers and other professionals to guide them through the process of estimating costs, understanding building systems, evaluating facility concerns, and focusing on educational needs. The 2010 Strategic Plan will guide the team’s work. The long range target most relevant to the MFP is No. 3: “Develop and implement practices that manage facilities and resources (both tangible and intangible) with efficiency and prudence.”
With community support from passing a bond measure in 2000, great improvements have been made to our facilities in the past decade. Since 2002, the District has constructed two new elementary schools, a new high school, a new middle school using an existing gymnasium and music building, a new stadium and a performing arts center. During this same period, a larger building was leased and remodeled for Weston High School. Although our community’s children have greatly benefited from these wonderful new facilities, our older facilities have continued to age. Thus, much of the work of the MFP team will focus on our older buildings. One of the most critical issues will be developing and recommending next steps for Post Middle School. Post was constructed in 1981 (with one building added in 1993) and is a campus of four separate single-story buildings with covered walkways. Post is attended by 570 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. Among the several systems that are in need of immediate improvement at Post are heating and ventilation, roofing, campus security and technology infrastructure.
The MFP team will be tackling needs and issues with other older buildings including heating and ventilation, aging classroom and gymnasium flooring, paving, technology infrastructure and roof replacements. Our newer facilities also have needs that the MFP will address. Many community members have expressed an interest in installing artificial turf at John Larson Stadium. Such an improvement would allow for greater use of this facility while providing additional safety for our athletes. As programs change, the educational needs of our facilities also change. Such is the case with our drama program and our set construction classes, which would benefit greatly from additional shop space.
District staff have been maintaining and improving all of our facilities with the funding that has been available. In the past decade, the District has made significant improvements to lighting systems to improve illumination while reducing consumption as well as installing and updating technology infrastructure to support our classrooms. During this same time, we have been busy replacing boilers, sidewalks, gutters and siding, while constantly performing routine maintenance.
Our Master Facilities Planning team will begin work April 2013 with the goal of making recommendations to the School Board in early 2014. If you have any questions or comments regarding this process or our facilities, please contact me.
Sid Logan is the Executive Director of Operations for Arlington Public Schools and can be reached at 360-618-6238 or via email at email@example.com.