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The Next Upgrade Coming to Your School District is...

School districts continuously evaluate their long-term plans and maintenance needs and as classroom learning and technology continue to change, some districts will look to referendums to make key upgrades that propel their buildings into the next generation.

So, what are the biggest construction trends happening in K-12 education right now? We took the question to our project managers to tell us what they’ve been seeing and doing in this industry:

1. Low maintenance and energy efficient options

Polished concrete floors that are easy to clean, brick siding that doesn’t require painting and upgrades to windows, roofs and mechanics ultimately all bring a return on investment in energy and maintenance savings. Upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing are also some of those most common upgrades education buildings need as aging facilities are faced with these essential upgrades to these basic functions.

2. Safety and security for all students, teachers and parents

Often safety and security upgrades may include securing entries and reinforcing the front office to ensure the safety of everyone inside. In addition, sometimes safety upgrades mean adding or upgrading accessibility services to meet or exceed current standards. It also occasionally includes examining the outside of the building to enhance traffic patterns so that all students can be safely dropped off or picked up.

3. Adaptable furniture and spaces

“Students these days collaborate and work on projects together making adaptable spaces key to modernizing a classroom,” said Haley Jones, director of marketing and referendum specialist at Scherrer. “Common spaces like gymnasiums also play a role for their flexibility to host programs, assemblies and community activities in addition to standard sports events and classes.”

This is especially true in hands-on spaces like art, music and science classrooms where students can learn and work effectively independently or in small groups while being observed by fewer educators. Adaptable furniture in these spaces can be continuously rearranged and repurposed to meet the needs of individual classrooms and even individual projects.

4. Technology and media centers

Increasingly, schools are incorporating more technology into their classrooms, with smart boards, laptops, and other devices becoming more common. STEM classrooms and labs are built to provide a place for students to engage in specialty science and math activities side by side with students learning more about engineering. What used to be distinct separate spaces for libraries and computer labs are now being merged into multi-purpose media centers that can meet students’ research and educational needs in a variety of ways.

In order to make sure that these new technologies can be used effectively, schools need to make sure their buildings have the proper infrastructure in place. This often means installing new wiring and data lines throughout the building.

5. Specialty classrooms

Addressing continuing education and career opportunities is becoming more common for school buildings. Family and consumer science classrooms are a trend that continues to gain traction as schools focus on career exploration and preparation for adulthood. In some more rural districts, agriculture centers have also been a more common addition with green houses and classroom space that allow districts to give students hands-on education in the agriculture industry while growing produce to support the cafeteria.

6. Green and sustainable design principles

Sustainability has been a key focus for many school districts when it comes to construction and renovation projects. From the use of recycled materials in construction to installing energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, districts are looking for ways to make their buildings more environmentally friendly and keep energy costs down. Some districts are even going so far as to install green roofs, which help to keep the building cooler in the summer and reduce stormwater runoff.

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