Dassel-Cokato Schools enters the schematic design process for bond projects.

Posted by Abbey Lang on 1/30/2023

In December, the schematic design process (the preliminary site and construction plans) for educational projects began by scheduling meeting times for individual focus groups. Each group was asked to think about the project scope and how potential solutions could meet student needs now and for years to come. Planning educational spaces for today while also anticipating the future is difficult. Supporting that concept is an article from a few years ago, published by Dell Technologies, which reported that 85% of jobs in 2030 have yet to be invented.

One way to help work towards that goal is to learn from various other programs. In late December, a group of CTE professors from St. Cloud State University toured our spaces and met with staff to discuss CTE classes and spaces compared to other schools and industry needs. This collaborative group of professors works closely with many high schools across Minnesota.

The advice given to all teaching staff was to continually ask oneself:
"What is the student experience you are trying to create?"
Instead of "what do you want students to learn?" ask, "what is the end goal?"

The group advised that the answers to these questions would help further shape programs and plans for the future and that flexible spaces enable programs to grow and change with time.  As a continuation of that initial meeting, several DCHS staff toured CTE, Science, and FACs spaces at Paynesville High School, Sartell High School, as well as SCSU's ISELF building and the Environmental and Technological Studies department in early January.  

Instructors spent time learning about how Paynesville reinvented dedicated spaces to provide a wider variety of student experiences through their Innovation Center. Formerly a media center, this space is now home to a wide variety of STEM/CTE project areas and gives students the ability to participate on an individual, group/club, or classroom basis. Sartell's 2019 built high school further explored new construction spaces for woods, shop and metals, science labs, and both commercial and residential-based FACS labs. The day concluded at St. Cloud State University, where the first attraction was a hand-held CNC machine. Inside the ISELF building were flexible, multi-disciplinary student-center spaces encouraging collaboration and hands-on learning. For DC staff, being able to ask about lessons learned and receive advice from others who recently went through the planning and construction process has helped give perspective and ideas as we move ahead.

For more information, go to Building466 online at www.isd466.org/bond2022