Aylor Replacement Project Update - August 6, 2018

The Frederick County School Board held a joint meeting with the Frederick County Board of Supervisors at Robert E. Aylor Middle School to discuss the proposal to replace Aylor Middle School with a new facility.

School Board Chairman John Lamanna thanked both Boards for meeting again to discuss the replacement Robert E. Aylor Middle School. He noted that school staff was prepared to provide information in response to two questions the Supervisors had at the conclusion of their joint meeting on July 24, 2018, regarding the size of the replacement Aylor Middle School and the research regarding the value of including collaborative learning spaces in schools.

Schools Superintendent David Sovine reviewed a portion of the Supervisors’ Vision 2036 which states, “Students are afforded well-designed learning environments that have superior curriculum opportunities that prepare them for stimulating careers and productive lives.” He also noted that the School Board’s 2014-2020 Division Comprehensive Plan states, “Students, teachers, and staff deserve to learn and work in high-quality facilities. Contemporary learning facilities are energy efficient, employ natural lighting, and provide properly conditioned spaces conducive to work. Facilities provide spaces for collaborative learning and work, individual classrooms for discreet teaching and laboratory experiences, and public spaces shared with the community. Facilities are designed for a life cycle of 25 years or longer before substantial renovation and/or upgrades.”

Dr. Sovine provided an overview of what he and his staff planned to review during the joint meeting and reminded the Supervisors that the School Board’s initial request was for $52 million to construct a 160,000 square foot replacement for Aylor which would be similar in size to Admiral Byrd Middle School and 26,000 square feet smaller than Frederick County Middle School. Both of those schools have the capacity to serve 900 students. Dr. Sovine also re-extended an invitation the Supervisors received from Frederick County Middle School Principal Jerry Putt in March to visit Frederick County Middle School on a regular instructional day in order to see how teachers and students are utilizing the learning spaces in that facility.

Heard Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Jim Angelo review the school division’s systemic approach to decision-making. He noted the process has been used in determining the best design for schools and cited feedback received from employers as well as contemporary research studies which were provided to the School Board and Board of Supervisors prior to the joint meeting. Dr. Angelo also highlighted the workforce readiness skills identified by employers in Virginia as reported by the Virginia Department of Education. Dr. Angelo reviewed Virginia’s Profile of a Graduate and the how collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and citizenship (the 5 C’s) are taught to students through engaging, project-based learning experiences. He also highlighted the findings of rigorous research studies that have noted the many benefits of engaging students in collaborative and individual problem-solving and critical thinking.

Heard Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff review the Guidelines for School Facilities in Virginia’s Public Schools, 2010, Revised September 2013. He noted that the forward to the guidelines includes a statement encouraging school facilities planners and local school boards to exceed the optional guidelines whenever possible. Dr. Orndorff stated that there are many factors to consider when designing a school, including the Program of Studies, the Master Schedule, the type of classroom furniture and class size. He stated the preference would be to have core classrooms in the 750 to 800 square foot range, exclusive of collaboration space. The minimum net floor area for classrooms to serve grades 6-12 in the state guidelines is 700 square feet.

Dr. Orndorff described how self-contained special education classrooms are used. He noted they are not counted in the utilization and program capacity of a building because they are primarily used for pull-outs such as physical therapy, consultation and occupational therapy when required by a students Individualized Education Plan (IEP). He noted the state guidelines recommend self-contained special education classrooms should total 750 square feet and serve a maximum of 10 students. Dr. Orndorff added that other considerations must also be made to ensure students using wheelchairs and/or adaptive equipment have enough space to avoid obstruction while navigating the classroom as independently as possible.

Dr. Orndorff reviewed the guidelines for science laboratory space and noted the type of lab space that is needed in the Aylor Middle School replacement. He stated a labs should be a minimum of 1,000 square feet and include at least 24 workstations. In addition, a minimum 200 square feet is needed for secure storage and lab prepeation. Dr. Orndorff also reviewed the guidelines regarding the art room and necessary storage area.

Dr. Orndorff highlighted the project scope for the proposed Aylor Middle School replacement. He noted that the utilization and program capacity model, not the minimum square foot capacity model, should be used when determining the best design for educational facilities. Dr. Orndorff added that a school’s capacity is the number of students which can be accommodated given the specific educational programs, the class schedules, the student-teacher ratios and the size of the rooms.

Dr. Orndorff reviewed a comparison of the minimum space guidelines for Virginia middle schools with the project scope for the replacement Aylor Middle School. Dr. Orndorff noted that the replacement Aylor Middle School project scope was based on a two story concept for the core instructional areas divided into six learning communities. Each of the learning communities would be centered around a flexible area functioning as a corridor and collaboration space for small group or large group purposes. He added that the actual design process would include various stakeholder groups and may yield something different. However, the overall product would have to adhere to all minimum standards and physical constraints.

Dr. Orndorff highlighted some other factors that must be considered when determining how a school is designed. He noted the need to design safety and security measures into schools and provide space for decentralized administrative support to assist with middle school grade level teaming. In addition, Dr. Orndorff noted there are other mandates for which space is needed such as the requirement that a private, secured room be provided for employees who may be breastfeeding. He noted such an area may not be the staff restroom and must be equipped with a refrigerator.

Dr. Orndorff stated the project scope for a replacement Aylor Middle School with a minimum 900 student utilization and program capacity comes in at roughly 160,000 square feet.

Frederick County Public Schools Clerk of the Works Kevin Kenney commented on the space requirements for the replacement Aylor Middle School as well as the building constructability.

Dr. Sovine, Dr. Angelo and Dr. Lamanna and School Board member Frank Wright responded to questions and comments from members of the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Wright stated the School Board is committed to building the best Aylor Middle School replacement possible with whatever funding is appropriated by the Board of Supervisors.

Workforce Development Research

Project-based Learning Research

Collaborative Learning Spaces Research