Survey results released, modernization big topic for future of SJSD facilities

The St. Joseph School District released the first round of summary results for phase one of their Master Facilities Plan Tuesday morning.

Posted: Jul 9, 2019 6:05 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2019 9:09 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District released the first round of summary results for phase one of their Master Facilities Plan Tuesday morning. 

The results were posted online and can be found by clicking the link here.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl said this survey was just one of many and focused on priority areas the community would like to see the district target for the future.

"There will be some more conversation about 'okay, exactly what are we talking about now that we've gotten some feedback from the community. What seems to be the options that we want to move forward with being able to present to the community?'" Van Zyl said.

Over 1,900 people took this survey. Here are some of the top results:

  • Nearly 60% of surveyors said current facilities will not support the future educational needs of the students.
  • 70% said the facilities are not sufficiently updated or modernized.
  • 90% believe that the learning needs of students are different now than in the past.
  • 90% understand that technology and innovation will impact future resource and facilities needs.

The district said a majority of the surveyors felt more attention needed to be on modernizing the school buildings to better attend to the current learning trends of the students.

“A lot of our schools were set up where it’s kind of like little ducks in a row - here’s your desk, you sit in your desk and that’s what takes place," Van Zyl said. "That’s not how learning takes place really anymore. It’s a more collaborative approach.”

The problem, however, is whether or not the district will decide to keep and renovate the current facilities or build new, updated ones. Van Zyl said the community will have a say in the matter, but added that renovating the current buildings will bring more obstacles.

“It’s a challenge to be able to say 'hey we’re going to keep this older facility that already has a solid structure and then go in and try to modernize it,'" Van Zyle said. "I've tried to work with facilities like that before. Can it be done? Yes, but it's normally more costly."

He added renovation can also be more inefficient in terms of finding where to put students while the construction is taking place. However, the survey results show that the majority of respondents thought the history of the buildings was an asset to the district.

Technology and hands-on learning both big topics for the district moving forward. Van Zyl said a more modernized classroom includes more space for students to move around, areas for group discussion and opportunities for students to be active and involved.

Other areas school officials will be discussing include transparency, increasing security and creating a community within the district.

"People really want there to be some type of unification across this district. That we are the St. Joseph School District, the St. Joseph community," Van Zyl said. "That it's not North end, South end, Midtown, Eastside. That there really needs to be a focus on how do we do what's best for our community?"

Another survey for phase two of the district's Master Facilities Plan has been released and can be found online. To participate, go to the school district's website.

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