Tag Archives: schools

Glendale Community College Technology 1 Building

Constructing a Competitive Edge

Whether it’s building a research facility from the ground-up or renovating a historic stadium, institutions of higher education must always be — or appear to be — on a competitive edge.
ASU’s decision to enter a $162M renovation of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., comes in the wake of other Pac-12 schools’ stadium upgrades and ground-up facilities. And the DPR Construction team awarded the 10-story, 245KSF Biosciences Partnership Building project has planned and priced at least five different scenarios simultaneously so that if one or more is accepted or eliminated, there isn’t much time lost in the design process.

“The universities are under a great deal of competitive stress, if you will,” says DPR’s Senior Construction Manager Peter Berg. “They’re competing with all the other universities to be the best, and they’re having to do it with less resources and less funding around the state.”

He adds that “the pace of change has accelerated to the point that it’s hard for them to see that future and plan far enough in advance so that the buildings they’re creating when it’s completed it’s still relevant.”

Planning meetings can radically change the direction a project is headed, but one thing never changes, says Berg, and that’s the start and end dates for a development.

“With increasing choices for learning environments and teaching styles, both on campus and on-line, education facilities need to project their investment in recruiting the top students through every facet,” says David Calcaterra, principal at Deutsch Architecture Group.

This is achieved, he says, by incorporating advanced technologies in the classroom as well as flexibility in the learning spaces for collaboration or focus-based learning.

“Now to be competitive, schools must also incorporate inspirational environments that foster creative thinking,” says Calcaterra. “Gone are the days of windowless classrooms with rows of desks.”

Deutsch was the architect on Adolfson & Peterson Construction’s renovation of the Glendale Community College Technology 1 Building, which was built in 1968.

“The aging facility was badly in need of a complete modernization and a significant upgrade to its infrastructure and technological capabilities,” says Michael Schroeder, director of marketing for A&P.

To make the facility an inspiring space that accommodates all methods of learning, Deutsch focused on natural light, good ventilation and sound quality. This supports good student learning, Calcaterra says, and faculty and staff retention.

The Noah Webster Schools Pima Campus, completed in August, is a charter academy that has made use of the increasingly popular site-adapt trend.

The new class of schools

An apple a day may keep a student in a teacher’s good graces, but there’s more to a healthy learning environment than fruit.

It’s no secret that many school districts have had to do more with less funding and fewer employees. With a rapidly changing learning environment — one with Wi-Fi in every classroom — and one that needs to accommodate more students and shift with the times, construction companies are being called upon to help schools transition into the future while surviving the present.

McCarthy Building Companies is one such contractor that has been using site-adapt approaches to its new school buildings. The approach includes adapting existing school designs to fit a district’s needs. This method reduces design time and allows for construction to occur on an aggressive timeline, says Steve Poulin, project director for McCarthy Building Companies’ educational services.

Riggs elementary school: constructed using similar design prototypes. McCarthy Building Companies and Hda Architects are currently working on a similar site-adapt project in Chandler.

Riggs elementary school: constructed using similar design prototypes. McCarthy Building Companies and Hda Architects are currently working on a similar site-adapt project in Chandler.

For example, McCarthy is working with HDA Architects on a 91KSF K-6 elementary school in Chandler modeled after the city’s Riggs and Carlson elementary schools. This is an increasingly common trend in burgeoning communities, such as Chandler and Gilbert.

Chasse Building is seeing the same trends in Deer Valley and Scottsdale, says Chasse Building Team Project Manager Jeremy Keck.

Chasse’s Deer Valley Elementary School No. 30 is adapted from two previously built schools — Stetson Hills and Norterra Elementary. Site-adapts aren’t a novel concept, points out HDA Architects Principal Pete Barker.

“The original concept for this school configuration took place in the late ‘80s. That is literally how long we have been adapting and re-using this design,” he says.

Carlson elementary school: constructed using similar design prototypes. McCarthy Building Companies and Hda Architects are currently working on a similar site-adapt project in Chandler.

Carlson elementary school: constructed using similar design prototypes. McCarthy Building Companies and Hda Architects are currently working on a similar site-adapt project in Chandler.

Barker estimates that site-adapt designs save a developer about 1 to 2 percent in design costs as a percentage of the construction cost. Poulin adds that the real impact for efficient designs, for the school district, comes in maintenance and operation costs.

“Overall, districts employing the site adapt are seeing improvements on their operations and maintenance budgets and time costs are reduced,” says Poulin. “Permitting on a new design can be substantial, and cutting this to closer to three or four months saves the district (money and time). In addition, when the primary requirement by the district is to decide on minor changes to a design they are familiar with, there is less required on their end, allowing the owner more time to focus on education.”

Working with similar structures, he adds, means construction teams are able to work efficiently on more aggressive timelines. Some of the most common changes to the schools include using metal roofs instead of clay, air-cool chillers in central, on-site plants and concrete parking lots and interior flooring. Concrete floors can be wet mopped and don’t need to be waxed.

Cities with rising populations are turning to renovations and introducing new systems that require lower operating costs. High-efficiency HVAC systems have become more affordable over time and many schools are investing in LED lighting.

“Many schools in use today are well past their life span and the technology with green building practices have accelerated this life cycle,” says Chasse’s Keck. Keck has seen a lot of construction going on in Scottsdale. As more rooftops rise, so does the need for schools. Case in point, homebuilder Taylor Morrison donated 15 acres to the Liberty Elementary School District so it could build a school near its newest housing development, Las Brisas in Goodyear, Ariz.

Some of these schools Keck is referring to start from scratch, built into a neighborhood, for instance. However, renovations are also popular. Lighting and HVAC retrofits, for instance. The complexity of retrofitting a school, Keck says, depends on the project. Some require a bit more creativity than others. He recalls a school Chasse Building worked on for the Catholic Dioceses that used a nearby natural well’s water to cool the school. Schools constructed in the 1950s, though, such as Mohave Middle School in Scottsdale, look so tired, Keck says, that at the end of the day demolishing the low-ceiling, single-pane window facilities is the best option.

Creative design elements include multi-purpose rooms. Keck says that gymnasiums and cafeterias tend to be a single space in new designs. He points out that many schools also use off-site locations for food preparation, while its kitchen is more of a warming and serving space.

“When students are in a nice environment and daylight and fresh air, (administrators) see better classroom performance,” says Keck. There is also an emphasis on bringing outside learning to a K-12 campus. Chasse’s Deer Valley Elementary School No. 30, which broke ground in August, has three interior courtyard spaces that can be used for instruction. The Greater Hearts Academy – Cicero Campus, completed in July, has an outdoor amphitheater in its courtyard.

The Noah Webster Schools Pima Campus, completed in August, and Paideia Academy of South Phoenix, completed about two years ago, are charter schools adapted from a Ken Harris Architecture design. Adolfson & Peterson worked with Fairfield Architects to modify the original design.

“The site-adapt approach saved time and costs associated with design while still allowing for the customization of finishes unique to the school,” says Michael Schroeder, Adolfson & Peterson’s marketing director. This was particularly important for the Noah Webster Schools, which is constructed on tribal land and needed to adhere to standards set by the Salt River Pima Indian Community. The 51KSF school was completed in seven months.

Many are moving into big box retail or industrial spaces. Typically, a charter school is smaller than most K-12 buildings. Traditional schools are also known for having playgrounds, basketball courts and recreational spaces as well as a bus system. When schools are built into a shopping center, the issue of drop-off and pick-up can be tricky, Keck warns. However, repurposing these spaces, despite being a new challenge dependent on location, may get easier with time. Chasse’s Great Hearts Academy is based on a prototype established by two new school sites this year.

Arizona School Choice Trust

D-backs Accepting Submissions For $150K School Challenge

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they are now accepting applications for the $150,000 School Challenge, presented by University of Phoenix, to benefit schools across the state of Arizona. The program is open to all Arizona public, private, and nonprofit charter schools, Grades K-12, and teachers and administrators are encouraged to “make their best pitch” on why they deserve to receive this important funding by submitting an application online at www.dbacks.com/schoolchallenge by Sept. 30.

“Last season we were astounded by the volume and quality of applications received and we know that schools across the state truly need help,” said D-backs’ President and CEO Derrick Hall. “That’s where the D-backs and University of Phoenix step in and we are excited to be able to bring back this valuable program. We are dedicated to ensuring that the schools in our state receive the resources that will make the biggest impact on our students and the community at large.”

The D-backs kicked off the program last spring with the $100,000 School Challenge and received an overwhelming response that inspired the team to also host a $150,000 Back-To-School Challenge last fall. With more than 1,300 applications last year, the D-backs were able to grant $5,000 to 50 schools for a grand total of $250,000 in 2012. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation provided $150,000 for the program and the University of Phoenix provided $100,000.  The $5,000 grants helped schools from across the state with needs such as educational supplies, books, updated computer programs, mobile computer labs and school improvements.

“Our community, schools, and students thrive when supported by local businesses and organizations,” said University of Phoenix President Dr. Bill Pepicello. “University of Phoenix is committed to providing support in the communities in which we reside and we are so proud to be part of this School Challenge program in partnership with the D-backs helping to ensure the education of our youth.”

The School Challenge is part of the D-backs’ overall charitable efforts and last season, the team and its charitable arm, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, surpassed $30 million in combined donations since their inception in 1998, including more than $4 million in 2012.


Wells Fargo invests $6.7 million in Arizona nonprofits

Wells Fargo & Company announced that it invested more than $6.7 million to almost 900 nonprofits and schools in Arizona in 2012. Wells Fargo team members personally contributed more than $2.4 million of the total in addition to almost 100,000 volunteer hours to help Arizona neighborhoods and communities succeed.

“There are people who have been affected by economic challenges in communities all across the country. Wells Fargo is committed to meeting the challenge of bringing local solutions to local needs, and I am so proud of how our company and team members have truly helped make a difference,” said Pam Conboy, Arizona Lead Regional President. “Wells Fargo has a long history of working closely with nonprofits and other stakeholders to promote long-term economic growth and quality of life in the communities we serve – and I know our 15,000 Arizona team members will continue this tradition of support.”

In 2012 community development received the largest amount of donations, totaling $1,378,372. Wells Fargo focused its contributions in the following areas within Arizona:

Community Development: $1,378,372
Human Services: $1,149,744
Education: $1,077,969
Environment and Civic: $229,450
Arts and Culture: $219,086

Nationally, Wells Fargo invested $315.8 million in 19,500 nonprofits in 2012, a 48 percent increase over the total donations for 2011. In addition, Wells Fargo team members contributed more than $60.5 million and 1.5 million volunteer hours to 25,000 nonprofits and schools.

carey school - graduate

Creating high performance schools

A central part of this year’s state budget debate is over Governor Brewer’s Performance Funding proposal for district and charter schools. Her plan helps ensure that tax investment in our schools yields measurable results.

Employers from across the state have fought against across-the-board cuts to our K-12 system, and we’ve supported the governor’s budget request to help make new, more rigorous standards successful. But we cannot support millions of dollars in additional new funding without some exchange for true accountability. Lest we forget, the voters agreed with this premise last November when they overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have raised taxes for education, but with little oversight in how the dollars would be spent.

A modern school funding system should be based on transparency, giving parents the information they need to choose schools and to choose communities in which to live and work. And the job creators we work hard every day to keep and recruit deserve a system that makes clear that our elected leaders are serious about excellent educational outcomes that prepare today’s kids for tomorrow’s jobs.

For more than a decade we have been building and adjusting such a system. We started with school accountability that tells us how schools and districts perform. We articulate this information using the same A-F letter grades that our students receive. More recently, Arizona implemented a teacher and principal evaluation system to ensure schools intervene with struggling educators, amplify the impact of high performing teachers and engage all educators in between.

These and other mechanisms implemented thus far seem to be moving the needle in most schools and providing the kind of transparency education hawks have demanded. But some persistent challenges remain. With billions of taxpayer dollars going to fund our K-12 system, Arizonans are demanding accountability that doesn’t just advertise performance, but also predicates some amount of schools’ annual funding – particularly hard-to-get new resources – on learning outcomes.

In response, the governor is proposing a first-of-its-kind model for schools to earn more funding than they currently receive. What’s really revolutionary is that a small amount of their current funding will be on the line as well. This percentage will grow over the course of the next five years.

Under Gov. Brewer’s plan, districts and charters at all performance levels can earn new dollars for improving their outcomes. For schools that reach state performance levels, even more money can be earned. But the greatest earning potential is in doing more than before, rather than being rewarded for perpetuating the status quo, the theme of the current funding model.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a redesign of the education funding system that provides the right incentives to focus on outcomes rather than just seat time. The governor has proposed a modest move towards such a model. For fiscal year 2014, 1 percent of total funding is set aside for this model, reaching 5 percent at the end of five years.  One third of the funding would be from existing revenue, but nearly two thirds – more than $150 million by Year Five – would be new funding that all schools and districts would have an opportunity to earn simply by showing improvement.

A variety of reforms have been tried over the years and more will be tried during our time and after. Not all of them will work, but not trying at all is unacceptable. Combined with new standards, Gov. Brewer’s Performance Funding plan provides the right amount of tension in the system to move Arizona schools to the next tier.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.  


Horne proposes arming educators

In the wake of the Connecticut school shootings, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is proposing a plan to allow one educator in each school to carry a gun.

Horne says Arizona schools opting to participate could designate someone to receive free firearms training. That person would be the only one allowed to keep a gun on campus if there wasn’t already a police officer posted there.

He says armed police officers at schools would be ideal but budget constraints make that unrealistic. Horne says his proposal is safer than allowing all educators to carry guns. State law would first have to be amended to push forward with his plan.

Currently, Utah and Kansas are the only states that allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in a school.