Park Hill board seeks input on facilities plan

The Park Hill School District continues to seek feedback on its long-range facility plan and encourages the public to weigh in using a survey on its website. More than 300 people have already participated, according to district officials. The 20-question survey, which is hosted by a service entitled Survey Monkey, can be found at

Survey questions ask for input on topics including grade level configurations, special education, student-teacher ratios, early childhood education and more.

The new effort is part of a project that was launched in late 2012. Hollis and Miller architects started the process by reaching out to students, staff and community members with limited success. Eventually, the district created an online survey, which 124 patrons took.

After a lack of participation last year, the district retooled its process and is now seeking public opinion again, this time based on a preliminary report from Hollis and Miller.

At a recent board of education meeting, Kirk Horner of Hollis and Miller presented a slate of criteria including an emphasis on 21st-century education, grade configurations, school sizes and learning spaces. A total of 18 criteria were outlined, and administration asked board members to review and determine the most important areas of focus.

Board members immediately questioned part of the criteria, including school size. Horner said according to national data, the desired sizes for high schools are 1,600 students with a minimum of 1,200 students and a maximum of 1,800. For middle and elementary schools, desired size is 750 students with 500 students at a minimum and 900 maximum.

Board members Janice Bolin and Allison Wurst questioned the relevancy of such data in comparison to the local program. Horner said this was exactly the sort of input needed and encouraged the board members and the public to participate in the process. The survey does include a question pertaining to school facility size and “appropriate areas for learning.”

According to a commonly accepted industry standard, there are certain criterion for the size of school sites and how much space each student needs to learn. Under these standards, elementary schools should be built on 14-20 acre sites and dedicate 120 square feet per student; for middle schools, the site size is 26-40 acres and 150 sq. ft. per student; and high schools should be build on 40-55 acre sites and allot 175 sq. ft. per student.

School sizes are also up for debate, as the standard has been tentatively set at 400-650 students in elementary schools, 500-900 in middle schools and 1,200-1,800 in high schools.

Park Hill superintendent Dr. Scott Springston said having a draft plan to present to the public would help in the feedback process, which so far does appear to be the case.