Master Plan Focus Groups Meetings Update

The focus of this series of workshops was to review the in-progress development of space related benchmarks for school facilities to align with the WDMCS facilities framework. As a key component of Master Planning, facilities “benchmarking” criteria will be used to evaluate how well our current facilities are able to contribute to the WDMCS vision. To facilitate these workshops, consultants from BrainSpaces (school planning) and Shive- Hattery (architects and engineers) presented data and in-progress lists and diagrams for elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The following notes summarize these initial discussions.

Update 04/10/18: Shive-Hattery Meeting Minutes 

March 23, 2018 Focus Group Workshops

Elementary Focus Group


  • All elementary schools will include preschool classrooms. The number of preschool classrooms will be based on the specific needs of each school community. (Note that community-based preschool programs will continue to supplement preschool offered within WDMCS schools.)
  • All elementary schools will serve students in grades preK-5.
  • Five elementary schools are now and will continue to be three-section schools. This means there are three classrooms per grade level: Clive Learning Academy, Crestview School of Inquiry, Crossroads Park Elementary, Fairmeadows Elementary, and Western Hills Elementary.
  • Three elementary schools are now and will continue to be larger than three sections, but
    not larger than four sections: Hillside Elementary, Jordan Creek Elementary, and Westridge Elementary.
  • Average class sizes (for the purposes of defining space benchmarks):
    • PK: 20 students
    • K-2: 26 students
    • 3-5: 28 students
  • Classroom square-footage benchmarks recognize special education inclusion
    model by accommodating at least one additional adult in the classroom space.


Middle School Focus Group

Overall quantitative parameters for middle schools:

  • Two middle schools
  • 1,050 students per school
  • Grades 6, 7, and 8
  • Three teams per grade, about 110-120 students each
  • Average class size: 28 students

Overall qualities for middle schools:

  • A true “middle school model” is supported (as opposed to a junior high school model). This means that students are organized into inter-disciplinary academic teams. Each team includes approximately 120 students shared by a group of teachers of core subjects such as language arts, math, social studies, and science, who work together to meet the learning needs of the team.
  • Middle schools will be welcoming, yet safe and secure.
  • The educational environment should be healthy, pleasant and inspirational.
  • With the addition of 6th graders, middle school office areas should have space for two assistant principals to support the principal.
  • Flexibility for spaces is key to allow for changes in student needs, activities, new programs, student groupings, etc. both daily and over time.
  • Academic areas for 6th grade should be physically separated from 7th and 8th-grade areas.
  • Some of the student support spaces (such as resource, reading, ENL, etc.) should be located within and/or nearby academic teams for flexibility and easy access for students.
  • The media center should be centrally located with easy access for students of all grade levels.
  • Outdoor learning areas should be available for all grades.
  • Locate PE spaces for easy after-hours access and use. In addition to basketball courts, PE spaces should also accommodate volleyball and archery (though not simultaneously).
  • World languages courses function like core classes and should be with the academic teams.
  • Students should have ample opportunities to participate in hands-on and project-based learning such as career/technical programs, robotics, business and finance, and family consumer sciences. Spaces for these programs should be designed with flexibility to support other programs as needed over time.
  • Students should have ample opportunities to participate in fine and performing arts including music, drama, and art. A stage should be included to support performances, however, audience seating should be located in adjacent large open spaces that are already included for other purposes such as the gym of the cafeteria, as opposed to adding square-footage specifically for audience seating.
  • A school store should be included in the school commons and may also serve the business class as an applied learning space.
  • A pantry space for supplies and clothing should be included in the school. This could be within the counselors’ area as long as there is some privacy.
  • There should be one space in the school that can accommodate the entire student body, this will likely be the gymnasium.
  • 6th grade team teachers should have their own classrooms, sharing of classrooms is possible for 7th and 8th grade teachers as long as there are teacher offices/work areas nearby.
  • All learning environments should be designed with daylight / natural light.


High School Focus Group

Overall quantitative parameters for high schools:

  • The combined 9-12 student capacity for Valley High School and the Innovation Center should be 2,800-2,850 students. Calculations for capacity will assume that approximately 2,100 students will be at the Valley campus and 700-750 students will be at the Innovation Center at any given time.
  • It is expected that Walnut Creek Campus students will take courses at the Innovation Center.
  • It is expected that high school students will continue to engage in partnerships, internships, service learning, and other off-campus courses, as they do currently. This may mean that 50 to 100 students will be off-campus at any given time.
  • Walnut Creek Campus will serve up to 200 students, with approximately 50 students taking courses at the Innovation Center at any given time.
  • Average class size: 28 students

Overall qualities for high schools:

  • All schools will be welcoming, yet safe and secure, and the educational environment should be healthy, pleasant and inspirational.
  • A distinct area for 9th-grade core courses somewhat separated from 10-12th-grade areas is desired to maintain the positive aspects of the current Southwoods High School.
  • The Innovation Center should be planned so that change is the norm – recognizing that programs will evolve and change with changes in society and workforce needs over time. Thus, spaces should be flexible to accommodate a variety of hands-on and lab-based activities so that changes may be made relatively easily by changing furniture and equipment.
  • Innovative programs are currently located in VHS facilities, and some are newly updated or renovated. Defining which of these programs should be located in the Innovation Center should take this into account.
  • A duplication of programs and services at VHS and the Innovation Center is not recommended, however logistical issues such as food services and transportation should be considered. For example, a small food court could be included at the Innovation Center, but a full lunchroom would not be needed.
  • It is generally agreed that the Innovation Center should include some core classes. This will support project-based and interdisciplinary study at both sites.
  • It is logical to include performing arts programs at the VHS building. Additional spaces for music instruction will be needed to accommodate the 9th-grade programs. Music programs at the Innovation Center could focus on digital music, composition, writing, recording, mixing and the like. A music lab and practice/sound rooms should be included.
  • While a gymnasium may not be necessary to support programs at the Innovation Center, a space for fitness should be included for both student fitness and as a lab space for health occupations.
  • Spaces for student support, counseling, and special education should be included
    in all 9-12 buildings.
  • A coordinated schedule should be created to accommodate all 9-12 buildings.


Next Steps

Adequate detail was collected for the consultant team to fine-tune facilities space benchmarks
for elementary and middle schools, and to begin applying these benchmarks to WDMCS
facilities as part of the “fit-analysis” effort. However, additional conversations will be required to complete the benchmarks phase for 9-12, particularly the Innovation Center. We recommend a second meeting of the High School Planning Focus Group before finalizing the 9-12 benchmarks. The Facilities Committee and High School Focus Group will meet April 13. Community workshops are scheduled for April 19.