School board approves first piece of plan that will guide future construction and modernization

With the help of an Irvine-based design firm, IUSD is in the process of developing a comprehensive plan that will be used to guide the construction of new schools and the modernization of existing sites over the next two decades.

IUSD’s Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan is expected to be finalized in spring 2012, but the first piece was recently considered by the Board of Education. With a unanimous vote, board members on Nov. 15 approved a series of staff-recommended educational specifications for elementary schools, middle schools and K-8 campuses, as well as a set of guiding principles.

Educational specifications — or ed specs — are a requirement of the California Education Code. They describe the various instructional activities that will be housed within a school and detail the spatial relationships and special features that will be needed to support those activities.

Guiding principles are philosophical tenets that must be followed as new projects are planned and built. The board approved seven of them on Nov. 15, declaring that IUSD will respond to the needs of each student, promote 21st century skills, support professional development, nurture healthy people and healthy environments, establish the highest quality programs, celebrate the uniqueness of Irvine’s communities and maintain a long-range view.

“Our district has earned a reputation for designing and building first-rate educational facilities over the course of its 40-year history, and much of that can be attributed to diligent long-range planning,” said Sue Kuwabara, president of the IUSD Board of Education. “In fact, we have completed approximately 90 percent of the projects outlined in our previous Facilities Master Plan.”

Though funding for education remains tight as a result of the state budget crisis, Kuwabara noted that revenue sources exist for future construction and modernization projects. Per the state’s Education Code, these dollars must be spent on capital needs, meaning they cannot be used to pay for instructional salaries or general operating expenses.

“Moving forward, we want to make sure IUSD continues to have a thoughtful and thorough facilities roadmap in place, ensuring future generations of Irvine families have access to world-class schools and amenities,” she said.

IUSD’s planning staff and the architects from Irvine-based LPA Inc. have so far connected with more than 750 local stakeholders to determine what employees and community members value in school facilities. Central themes have centered on flexibility, collaboration, school culture, enrichment programs and technology.

Look for high school ed specs to be discussed soon. In the meantime, to learn more about the educational specifications that will be used to drive construction decisions for elementary, middle and K-8 schools, click here. For more information about IUSD’s efforts to develop a new Facilities Master Plan, click here.

(Update: To read highlights of the Nov. 15 Board of Education meeting, click here.)