2016—Forsan Elementary

Forsan ISD—Forsan Elementary

Construction of a new elementary school on a previously undeveloped, rugged site was undertaken with teacher and public input. The old school is fifteen miles away from the JHS\HS campus. Locating the elementary closer to the high school was a community priority for safety, economics and instructional reasons. A plan with flexible learning HUBs was developed to allow co-teaching, multiple educational deliveries and adequate space for the school’s robust, parent volunteer reading program.

Community

The School District is the cultural center of town. This was reinforced by constructing the elementary in close proximity to the High School.  Citizens now have easy access to school programs and in opportunities to mentor students.  In addition, community activities are accommodated by easily accessible school spaces, such as the cafeteria, gym and library.  The community green, playgrounds and outdoor learning areas are also venues for annual community celebrations and outdoor activities.

Design

The design capitalizes on the natural terrain, draws and vegetation for panoramic views from the building. The central axis connects the entry, office and library to a community green and playground. Exterior veneers mimic the limestone formations and extend throughout the interior common areas. Traffic studies and city street modifications ensure smooth flow around the site. Inside, learning hub spaces enhance group learning and parent interaction and supports multi-grade-level integration.

Planning

School Board visioning • Design team day with stakeholders • Presentation on Learning Environments • Campus utility, traffic and consolidation studies • Planning on wastewater issues • Design charrette with educators, administration & citizens • Site for traffic flow and connectivity with High School • Facility tours with Maintenance staff • Design incorporates spaces for “Reading Across America” and a robust parent involvement program • Community presentation on 21st Century Floor Plan

Sustainability

Sustainability—Star of DistinctionThe school was a lesson for the community on the impacts of clustered septic systems and more natural, large-scale treatment options. The project diverts 8,000 gallons of wastewater/day into a facultative lagoon & reuse pond. Clerestory windows, skylights and LED lights save energy. Outdoor teaching areas for science are provided, as well. Gym bleachers extend onto the court with a portable stage, resulting in a smaller footprint and seating area. Stained concrete floors reduce future waste.

Value

Efficiency in the cafeteria and gym allow for the adaptability to house dining, physical activity, district programs, after-hour events and Jr. High basketball games. Outdoor learning spaces offer a low-cost venue for a wide range of student and community groups. Native stone & crushed limestone were used for landscaping/erosion control. Relocating the elementary to be adjacent to the high school provides school budget savings, reducing personnel time and vehicle fuel traveling between sites.

School Transformation

The school transforms students’ learning with hub spaces designed for multiple learning modalities. Project, play, performance, art & design based learning are featured in these spaces & flow naturally with the District’s accelerated reading program. Smaller enrichment & intervention groupings occur here as well, including peer tutoring and parent volunteer readers. Kids learn to work in teams. A central library location along the main axis emphasizes, invites and inspires the love of reading.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner