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What’s top of mind at KSQ

community

5 Steps to a Successful School Bond Campaign

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Managing a public school bond campaign is a challenging undertaking with many moving parts. A successful campaign requires the ability of the district to create, communicate, and excite the community with visions of the future while balancing the realities of a potential tax increase for voters. Ultimately, a successful school bond campaign educates voters so they understand and accept benefits outweigh costs. The challenge most districts face is how to shift the conversations from brick and mortar to values and beliefs.

 

 

 

We’ve worked with school districts for decades, helping them lay the foundation for success when it comes to stakeholder support. In our experience, five key factors can make or break the bond effort for your district and the students you serve.

  1. Invest in the power of partnerships. Schools that thrive find ways to create symbiotic relationships with the community—from nonprofits and corporations to leaders in City Hall. These communities need strong schools to recruit talented staff, bring new companies to town and educate tomorrow’s workforce with the skills that will be needed for tomorrow’s jobs. When preparing for the future—whether investments are needed in technology, buildings or transportation­­­­­–these partnerships can lend a hand to the planning process. For example, a district with aging buildings that no longer meet the needs of enrollment and/or curriculum requirements is wise to engage professionals from the design and construction industry to help conduct facility assessments, identify associated costs and schedule for renovation or demolition. They can also review any demographic analysis or other studies conducted that may inform what facilities the district may need in the next decade. Professionals are often willing to provide a certain range of services at very little cost to help the district create the plan, with no guarantee of future paid work. It’s part of being a good community partner and working together to achieve the big picture.

    KSQ’s ‘Building Blocks 101’ Lego class is one way we engage with our local districts–companies investing their time and talent in schools is a great way to garner community support.

  2. Get the collegiate perspective. With the landscape of higher education ever changing and the needs and demands for student skills always evolving, school district leaders are wise to gather input from local and state higher education administrators to find out what makes for a prepared college student. Community colleges, technical schools and traditional four-year universities all look for key knowledge, traits and skill sets in incoming students—both hard and soft skills that are needed for success in post-secondary education and the world beyond. How their input can impact learning in the K-12 sector is something to consider.

    With an eye toward the future, this study lounge for a public high school in Oklahoma is part of a program to prepare students to test, apply and prepare for college.

  3. Hone your message. Once your district has a plan for a proposed package, you need to communicate the vision. Elevate the conversation above laptops, buses or brick buildings to the larger goal—the values and beliefs your district wants to improve upon. Is it student safety? 21st century learning? Life-long wellness? Or simply getting students out of portables? Communicating how the bond package underscores those type of core values reinforces a mission-driven approach that’s hard to vote against.
  4. Enlist some cheerleaders. Once you’ve identified your themes and have something for everyone to believe in, your district needs to not only communicate the what of the campaign but also the why of your campaign. If you’ve engage with local design professionals as you plan the bond, you’ll also have an array of conceptual images that help generate excitement and make the vision come to life. Armed with the what, the why and those illustrations, your district cheerleaders are ready to talk to a variety of stakeholders—parents, teachers, city leaders, business owners, the media and other key groups like local building contractors, parts and materials suppliers, and school equipment vendors. Think beyond school board meetings to connecting directly with local centers of influence. Small dinners, luncheons and one-one meetings with influential members of the community allow your leadership team to answer questions and get them on board in support of the vote so they can become your advocates.
  5. Celebrate and share your success. If your bond effort was successful, thank your stakeholders, cheerleaders and advocates who made it possible. Throw a district party—you’ve earned it! You have a great story now to tell—and likely quite a few lessons learned along the way. Publicize ground breakings and ribbon cuttings. Share your experience with others through an article, award submission, presentation at a school board conference or similar event. Pay it forward by sharing what you know and further cement your district’s reputation as a thought leader in advancing education­–and thereby setting your team up for success for the next time the district needs to garner public support.

* Editor’s Note:

KSQ NY Principal Scott Hillje and KSQ Charlotte Principal Doug Burns have led the firm’s effort to help local districts pass significant bond efforts. You can contact them for more information at shillje@ksq.design or dburns@ksq.design.

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community

KSQ Reaches Out: Helping Students Learn About Design

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Our passion for education and community outreach was ignited recently when our Tulsa office was asked to visit the Educare Pre-K classroom at Hawthorne Elementary in Tulsa Public Schools and talk about design inspiration as part of their architecture unit. Heather Miller from marketing and Adriana Vadasz from the interior design team were a great fit–bringing both a love of children and design talent to brighten their day and expand their young minds to what’s possible. Iggy Peck, Architect, one of our favorite children’s books, was the kickoff to our lesson.

The students loved the book Iggy Peck, Architect and Heather’s charming way with children.

Adriana explained to the students how, even as professionals, we sometimes use tools like Play-Doh and Legos to model our designs. Our visit was a big hit with the students, but Heather and Adriana may have gotten even more out of it. We’re currently thinking of ways we can continue to give back to this and other classrooms in the local community. Thank you, Ms. Rachel Richardson, for inviting us to your classroom!

A nice thank-you note complete with the students’ thumbprints was presented to Heather and Adriana.

In Charlotte, our office recently hosted a group of Myer’s Park High School students as part of the ACE Mentor program. The students spent time getting a brief overview of all the different aspects of KSQ, including a presentation on the marketing department, the design process, the role that graphics take in all aspects of our work, software we use to create documents, a walk through of a set of construction documents (and what software we use to produce them), and what goes into construction administration.

Stefan Pinheiro shows students the finish boards for a current project in the Charlotte studio.

Doug Kopec and Nelson Soggs speak to the students about construction administration and the importance of ensuring the project is built according to our design.

Students in the ACE program across Charlotte are gearing up for a competition in May, and we also helped them with resume, interviewing and presentation skills in order to get them ready for the event. Whether in our offices or in the classroom, our staff always enjoy the opportunity to educate and influence young minds about what we do!

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community

Classroom Makeover for Math Teacher Adds Up to Success

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Can good design make 8th grade math more exciting? We think it does, and knowing what tough critics middle schoolers can be made this year’s Project Classroom makeover challenge even more fun. One of the most gratifying projects we complete every year, this mini makeover of a public school classroom for a deserving teacher uses all aspects of our project management–from planning and design through construction.

After selecting Ms. Emily Partridge, an 8th grade algebra teacher at East Central Junior High in Tulsa as our 2016 recipient, our team of volunteers met with her in July to learn about how she uses the room, her wish list for the space and color preferences. Here’s what the classroom looked like before we got a hold of it.
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After three months of planning, our team (along with partners Cyntergy AEC and Wallace Engineering) took over the room for the weekend to breathe new life into the equation, so to speak. Our favorite part is the big “reveal” on Monday morning, when Ms. Partridge and her students saw the room for the first time.

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Our approach was a collegiate theme, inspired by Ms. Partridge telling us how she encourages her students to think beyond high school. A chalkboard wall was our solution when she mentioned how much they like writable surfaces.

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We look forward to Project Classroom every year–making a difference for students is why we do what we do at KSQ.

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community

KSQ K12 OUTREACH: MODELS AND MENTORS

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KSQ has been visiting K12 schools throughout the country for career days and while judging the NAWIC LEGO Block Kids competition recently we met a shy 6th grader named Justin who was one of the top finishers in his bracket. After the competition, Justin’s grandmother approached us to express her gratitude and share her grandson’s interest in the design field. We then coordinated an office visit for both of them to help Justin get a better understanding of the architecture and engineering careers…

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community

The Block Kids: KSQ’s Latest LEGO Education Effort

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It’s fair to say KSQ staff relish an opportunity to play with LEGOs and encourage a fondness in others for the classic building blocks. We’ve created an original bilingual LEGO STEM classroom program and recently had the opportunity to judge a Block Kids competition. The national LEGO building competition is hosted by the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) and aims to introduce K-6 school children to the AEC industry. Members of our Charlotte office judged a local competition and helped select students to move on to the regional (and hopefully national) level. The event showed us what students could design and create using 100 LEGO blocks, a piece of string, and aluminum foil within a 40 minute time frame.

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community

Classroom Makeover Delivers “Big Wow” for Teacher and Students

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This week a KSQ design team’s efforts brought a teacher to tears–happy ones. Over the weekend, we completed our third annual Project Classroom makeover for a deserving and dedicated public school teacher at Grissom Elementary in Tulsa Public Schools. Her reaction at the “big reveal” Monday morning made all the hard work well worth it!

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community

Don’t Forget the Sun as Key Design Feature for Senior Living.

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When I began studying gerontology (the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging) and researching senior living design, I toured dozens of existing senior living communities across the United States. Whether the property was upscale or inexpensive, I noticed the lack of natural light and outdoor experience spaces across the board. The design was counter-intuitive to the research and the need for designs that provided more than shelter, food and medical services was apparent.

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community

Why WELL? Going Beyond Design to Total Health

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Over the past few decades professionals involved in the planning and construction of buildings have grown increasingly concerned about the impact of the built environment over the planet and humankind. Third-party building certification systems such as LEED, Green Globes, and Energy Star have been developed to evaluate and rate the performance of projects while also serving as a sustainability guide during design and construction. Recently The WELL Building Standard was created and launched as another certification system, but WELL certification focuses specifically on human health and well-being and evaluates the impact of the built environment on people’s mental and physical health.

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community

Education by Design: Our Lego Class Lays the Foundation

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What do you get when you mix architects, interior designers, 5th graders, Legos and the Spanish language? An incredible dual language STEM project experience! Our team recently had the opportunity to work with students at Eisenhower International School where they are immersed in Spanish in their classroom. Since several of our staff speak Spanish as their native language, we thought this would be a great combination of sharing their language as well as what we do in our profession. We were right.

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community

When My Worlds Collide: Returning to High School with a Different Perspective

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I wasn’t overly fond of high school. I was painfully shy, my world was small, and cell phones didn’t exist so I couldn’t hide behind my phone scrolling through social media. Recently, I returned to my high school campus, and instead of being the reluctant, shy student I once was, I was the confident professional supporting Kingston High School both as a 1982 graduate and as a team member from KSQ–the firm chosen for a comprehensive and historic re-imaging of the school’s 100-year old campus.

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community

The old stomping grounds: Senior living trend takes us back to campus.

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As (my) Baby Boomer generation inches closer and closer to both retirement and our “golden years” of a senior lifestyle, more and more of this generation are seeking an intellectually stimulating lifestyle where we can engage in multigenerational experiences and events sponsored by our alma mater such as university courses, lectures, art exhibits, music performances as well as football and basketball games. Active seniors often choose to reside in a university-based retirement community that provides the vitality and energy associated with campus life. Who can blame them?

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SMU buildings exterior
community

Residential college model the focus here at SMU

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Student housing on a grand scale is the defining characteristic of the new Residential & Dining Commons at Southern Methodist University. The sheer scope of the project—1,250 beds in five residence halls, a 500-seat dining commons and an 800-car parking structure – is massive, even by Texas standards. But the detailed Georgian-style architecture paired with high-quality materials, including slate roofing, brick and high-performance glass also contribute to the impressive nature of this project that opened to students in August.

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community

Edison Groundbreaking in Tulsa: Taking preparatory to a whole new level

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Sure, it was about 36 degrees this morning but the excitement about the new Collegiate Center at Edison Preparatory School was motivating enough to draw a crowd of supporters out on the school’s lawn to break ground on the project. It wasn’t just a quick “it’s cold outside event” either. No, this had to be celebrated right so we brought in the marching band and pom squad and took the time to recognize the goal of the project–we’re taking preparatory to a whole new level, and the groundbreaking ceremony had to be taken to a whole new level as well.

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