Over $2.4 billion in local General Obligation Bonds were approved by voters on June 3rd, sending a clear message that the public, undoubtedly, is supportive of education in California.  Why?  With the 21st Century Learning Environment movement comes a widespread shift in education based on today’s global economy and the demand to prepare U.S students to compete in the future work world.  In addition, technological advances and the move to the Common Core State Standards have school districts across the country realizing the need for facilities improvements in order to bring in the much needed technological backbone/infrastructure and flexible learning environments to meet these important needs.

With offices in San Jose, Sacramento, Orange County and Los Angeles, the team at BCA Architects has become a recognized thought leader in education within the state of California. They successfully master planned six of the Districts that passed bond measures earlier this month. Paul Bunton, AIA NCARB, President of BCA Architects commented on this exciting news, saying, “Public School Districts across the state are seeing the need to completely update their Facilities Master Plans to adapt to the changing educational environment that the 21st Century Learning Environments require.”

The process that BCA uses to set up their Districts for master plans is a step by step method beginning with establishing the current conditions of their District’s sites, engaging the stakeholders in an interactive process of prioritizing their needs, building the bond team to collaboratively work together to support the District Administration and Governing Board (including the architect, financial advisors, bond strategists, bond underwriters, and bond counsel to determine the Districts bonding capacity) and mold the needs around the available funding – then finding the best methods to obtain the funding (i.e. State matching funds and local funding sources.)

BELOW IS BCA’S RECOMMENDED STEP-BY-STEP LONG RANGE FACILITIES MASTER PLAN PROCESS (more information is available on BCA’s website at www.bcaarchitects.com):

STEP 1:      Establish Goals, Objectives and Committees to work with your architect to develop the Master Plan and establish (or refine) the 21st Century Goals and Objectives of the District.

STEP 2:      Update the Districts Demographic Study to accommodate the future growth/decline in addition to recalculating the capacity based on the LCFF requirements.

STEP 3:      Develop Detailed Condition Assessments of each school site and Conceptual Level studies to create 21st Century Learning Environments. (view examples)

STEP 4:      Development of District Standards. Educational Specifications, Maintenance & Operations Standards, Security Standards (post Sandy Hook), Sustainable Design Guidelines, IT Standards, etc.

STEP 5:      Financing Strategies (Cost vs. Funding) & Schedule Analysis. Including strategies for phasing if necessary to accommodate keeping the campuses operational during construction.

STEP 6:      Community Outreach (site committees, school communities, and town hall meetings).

STEP 7:      Board Approval of Master Plan. (view examples)

Each of BCA’s Master Planning Processes are tailored to the unique attributes of each community and District.

In BCA’s San Jose corporate headquarters, BCA designed and constructed a “21st Century Classroom Demonstration Lab” that demonstrates to their various Districts across the State what a fully integrated classroom looks and feels like.  Paul Bunton stated, “Our clients have struggled with understanding the various components of a 21st Century Classroom (i.e. flexible furniture, multi-display, multi-device) that led us to construct a lab that we can tour District administrators, teachers, and Board members through and have our Educators in Residence lead them through the various options to specifically tailor the classrooms to each District.”

Dr. Wesley Smith, Executive Director of ACSA (Association of California School Administrators), comments, “We are thrilled with the vision and thought that BCA has placed into the ACSA University here in Sacramento. We envision that this space, when completed this autumn, will be a showcase for Districts across our State to assist them in their decision making and bring their Districts into the 21st Century. We believe that it is critical that our Districts start their master planning processes by first identifying how they are going to meet the Common Core standards and bring their facilities into a high level of flexibility and integration, allowing our students to better collaborate and access information quickly within their schools.

BCA is currently designing the new ACSA University in Sacramento which will be a technology training center in association with a 21st Century Demonstration Classroom to train superintendents and administrators across the state on the benefits of taking their Districts into the 21st Century by adopting the fully integrated classroom.