Most of what you hear about WCPSS facility needs is about schools, classrooms, and student seats. As the fifteenth largest school district in the US, and a district that is opening thirteen new schools in the next three school years, this makes sense. What doesn’t get a lot of press is the need for additional auxiliary and academic capacity.
The SNAP process (Space Needs Analysis and Prioritization) was created to help the district define specific program needs, project costs, and compare priorities. Once identified and prioritized, the process allows the district to align needs with resources.
Those resources were presented in the order of “lowest hanging fruit” to that on “higher limbs,” as described by Betty Parker, WCPSS Real Estate Services Senior Director.
First on the list, and among the lowest branches on this resource tree, is repurposing existing space. Using the already district-owned River Oaks Condominiums will provide working space for a transportation routing team, a satellite Alternative Learning Program office, Career and Technical Education (CTE) testing administration and materials space, and a Pre-K Developmental Screening satellite office.
Next on the list is collaboration with community partners. These are still pretty accessible branches on the resource tree. Parker shared that the YMCA has offered to partner with WCPSS on the use of a 30,000 square foot warehouse on a site just across Rock Quarry Road from the current WCPSS auxiliary services compound for the next two summers. This additional warehouse space will help the district house and distribute what Parker referenced as an oncoming “wave” of furniture, fixtures, and instructional supplies for schools set to open. As a reminder, five new schools will open for 2016-17, three will open for 2017-18, and five more will open in 2018-19.
Higher on the resource tree is developing owned property. Parker stated that the district has “need for regional centers that handle both bus maintenance and bus storage.” For example, the district currently leases a bus storage lot in Apex is only available for another 18 months. And, all major bus maintenance for the county happens at the facility on Rock Quarry Road. The site design for the Middle Creek Regional Transportation Center already exists and the property is already owned. The design provides 547 bus parking spaces and a large maintenance building.
Last on the list, and among the highest branches, is new space. Many academic needs identified by the SNAP process exceed existing available space and will require leasing or purchasing additional space. With the list of needs prioritized, opportunities can be best used as they become available. Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore provided a brief overview of academic programs identified. They include Transitions, a program that serves students with disabilities who have been long-term suspended. Also included is a program that’s be referenced as an Enterprise Learning Model. This program provides online and face-to-face learning of personalized and competency-based content. Finally, there is a need for an Alternative Learning Center hub. This is a site that provides support to SCORE enrolled middle and high school students serving long term-suspensions.
The takeaway here is that as our district has grown to 171 schools, and will reach 184 schools in three years, additional needs for auxiliary and academic spaces have grown as well. And, if there are any fabled resource trees in your neighborhood, let us know.