District 220 finds inspiration for improvements in Minnesota
Barrington Area Unit School District 220 officials recently hit the road for ideas on what the future might look like at its schools.
One place that stood out for the district -- and an architecture consultant -- was the Minneapolis area's Jordan Middle School, a 53-year-old building that underwent an award-winning renovation completed in December 2015.
Officials also explored schools in Missouri, Kansas and elsewhere in Minnesota.
"I would say from my perspective, this school here, Jordan Middle School, was the highlight of this tour," District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said.
An initiative called Blueprint 220 is driving the interest in significant school renovations to meet today's education needs. Blueprint 220 is being formed as long-term strategy that will have recommendations on facility improvements.
District 220 hired Chicago-based DLR Group to help form the plan on what its schools might look like in the future. DLR designed the Jordan Middle School renovation and expansion featuring a flexible learning environment that can accommodate a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics program.
What had been an old middle school with few windows was transformed into a building with lots of natural light. DLR's work on the school about 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis was recognized with a grand prize by Learning by Design, and as a top project by Finance and Commerce magazine.
DLR Group's Jason Lembke showed the District 220 board at a meeting how a glass garage door separating some learning areas can be opened or closed at Jordan Middle School. There also are open collaboration areas and a computer laboratory for students to bring their own devices because it does not have desktop models.
"This is a (school remodeling) that has been extensively reviewed as a case study among many levels of our curriculum instruction conversation," Lembke said.
Another highlight in Lembke's presentation to District 220 officials was a 45,000-square-foot addition of a community education and recreation center at the middle school. He said the center, which includes meeting spaces, is something all of Jordan, Minnesota, can use.
"They actually have had a wedding or two in this facility," Lembke said. "This was a great opportunity."
Residents will be solicited for feedback through community forums and other means on tentative ideas for District 220's schools as part of the long-range planning effort, likely beginning in September.
"People are going to be real curious about 'my school' -- some of our parents and staff -- and what are the exact ideas that are coming out," Harris said.
DLR has studied the physical condition of District 220's buildings and examined how they are used for education. DLR employees also followed students through their day and charted how much time they spent in classrooms and other areas and what they did there.