AISD hosts community meetings about future fine arts center and athletics complex

Kerrianne Wolf, an education consultant with DeJONG-RICHTER, reviews the educational specifications for those in attendance at the meeting.

Kerrianne Wolf, an education consultant with DeJONG-RICHTER, reviews the educational specifications for those in attendance at the meeting.

The AISD hosted two community meetings on May 4, 2015, one to discuss the future fine arts center and one to discuss the future athletics complex. Both buildings will be funded by the 2014 Bond package. The fine arts center is scheduled to open in 2018 and the athletics complex is scheduled to open in 2019.

Cindy Powell, AISD chief financial officer, opened both meetings and explained how the two new facilities will help the district realize its strategic plan. She specifically highlighted one of the plan’s objectives that “100 percent of students will be actively involved in extracurricular and co-curricular activities,” along with one of the goals that says, “The AISD will be a high performing, technology-rich school district with leading-edge learning experiences that promote engagement, creativity, critical thinking and achievement.”

Powell further explained why the AISD decided to build these facilities. A thorough districtwide facilities assessment, conducted by Jacobs Engineering Group, first revealed AISD facility needs and deficiencies. Then the Capital Needs Steering Committee, which comprised a wide variety of community members, considered how to best meet those needs and overcome the deficiencies.

The facilities assessment pointed out that AISD high schools are full and need some relief. However, enrollment forecasts do not indicate the need for a new school. So considering the need to relieve some pressure at the high schools, combined with the district’s strategic plan to provide world-class experiences and education, along with extra- and co-curricular opportunities for each student, the AISD decided to develop districtwide facilities like the fine arts center and athletics complex. These new state-of-the-art buildings will free up space in the high schools and enhance program offerings.

Fine Arts Center
Kerrianne Wolf, an education consultant with DeJONG-RICHTER, led the fine arts meeting and outlined the planning that has been done thus far. In January she interviewed fine arts teachers to develop an understanding of what types of spaces and programs will be needed in the fine arts center. Then on April 27 and 28 she moderated a two-day planning lab with fine arts teachers, administrators, students and parents. The participants in the lab discussed their vision for the facility and for its impact on students. They considered the opportunities and challenges along with the potential for curriculum collaboration. By the end of the two days, they drafted sample floor plans for the facility. Read more about the planning lab.

After sharing the results of the planning lab, manifested in a draft adjacency illustration (a very preliminary floor plan), Wolf took questions and asked the attendees to fill out a survey. The survey was available online for one week after the meeting for all members of the community to take.

Wolf used the information from the community surveys in a second planning lab – with the same participants – on May 21. From there she will develope the full educational specifications for the fine arts center and will present them to the AISD Board of Trustees on June 18, 2015.

Athletics Complex
David Sturtz, an education consultant with DeJONG-RICHTER, led the athletics meeting and outlined the planning that has been done thus far. The athletics complex will be designed specifically for swimming and diving, wrestling and gymnastics. The district currently lacks adequate swimming facilities and has to rent lanes from other locations just to hold practice. The gymnastics team practices at an elementary school and cannot host district meets. And while wrestling has practice space at each high school, it lacks a strong competition facility.

Sturtz moderated a two-day planning lab on April 27 and 28 with swimming, gymnastics and wrestling coaches, athletics trainers, athletics department administrators and representatives from Special Olympics. The participants in the lab discussed their vision for the facility and the types of spaces they will need. They considered the opportunities and challenges along with the potential to share resources and spaces. By the end of the two days, each group of participants drafted sample floor plans for the facility. Read more about the planning lab.

After sharing the results of the planning lab, Sturtz took questions and asked the attendees to fill out a survey. The survey was also available online for one week following the meeting for all members of the community.

Sturtz used the information from the community surveys in a second planning lab – with the same participants – on May 21. From there he will develop the full educational specifications for the athletics complex and present them to the AISD Board of Trustees on June 18, 2015.