Learning to Share; Creating Efficiencies in Schools

1:00 PM
 2:00 PM


Shifting district lines or rethinking placement of grade levels can be a contentious proposition within a community. This session will explore how thoughtful planning and design can fend off negative reactions to school “consolidation” and maintain the individuality and character of disparate schools as they are combined to share resources. The presentation will track the design and planning process for two projects. Sand Springs School District is in the process of replacing their nearly 100-year-old 9th grade center by creating a new facility attached to their existing high school. Through careful design by creating distinct separations between the new and existing buildings, the new 9th grade center has overcome strong resistance from the school board and within the community to the perceived “consolidation” of the two schools. Simultaneously, it provides financial and spatial efficiencies which could only be achieved through the combination of the facilities. Sand Springs Superintendent Sherry Durkee is a potential speaker to discuss her work with the team to craft the overall design and garner community support ahead of a bond vote to fund the facility. Bixby Public Schools, facing a rapidly-expanding population and enrollment growth of up to 7% annually, needed to replace existing elementary and intermediate schools while also increasing each school’s capacity. Their commitment to maintaining low student/teacher ratios, need for additional classrooms, and desire to reduce administrative and facilities costs motivated an examination of several options ranging from creating two separate buildings, building a campus with two separate schools and a series of shared buildings for amenities such as the gymnasium, cafeteria or library, or integrating the two schools under one roof. Ultimately the best solution proved to be one building divided into two wings and with a central space with shared amenities.

#1: Weigh the pro and cons of merging separate schools into one facility.
#2: Determine what resources are easily shared through the combination of facilities versus which are more easily planned as separate programmatic elements.
#3: Develop a strategic approach for presenting and discussing controversial decisions with a community.
#4: Demonstrate how sharing resources can be beneficial to a community without stripping individuality from separate schools.

Ethics/Professionalism: Provides leadership and stewardship for the responsible investment of public and private funding into school facilities – while being a known advocate for the importance of the learning environment on a child’s future. They lead and have a record of leading transparent processes that help communities find common ground in developing solutions to complex and sensitive issues – advocating for long term solutions that address the needs of all children and stakeholders including underserved groups.

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Liz Rohrbacker, IIDA, A4LE, ALEP, Principal, KKT Architects, Inc.
Liz, a dedicated educational facilities designer, synthesizes information from various sources to create engaging and purposeful environments. Her intuitive and methodical design approach accompanied by her honesty and humility have made her a trusted advisor and highly-consulted resource for KKT’s clients. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Design, Housing and Merchandising with an option in Interior Design from Oklahoma State University. She is on the board of Oklahoma A4LE and has an ALEP certification.

Sarah Gould, AIA, A4LE, Owner, KKT Architects, Inc.
Sarah leads all aspects of building and design at KKT Architects. Education and community are her passions, and she works closely with most school districts in the region. Sarah is President of Oklahoma A4LE and serves on the board of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. She earned her Master of Architecture from the University of Texas, Austin and her Master of Architectural Urban Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.

Sherry Durkee, Superintendent, Sand Springs Public Schools
Sherry’s commitment to the students and community in Sand Springs is evident in her passionate advocacy for special education programming, technology integration in curriculum, and advancing STEM learning opportunities in the district. She was Special Education and Federal Programs Director before becoming superintendent. Sherry earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Applied Behavioral Studies from Oklahoma State University. 

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



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