Facilities Impact Learning
Details of the Proposal
Safety and Security
The school district dedicated a portion of its operating funds to improve safety at the high school, and wants to make similar improvements quickly at all schools.
Work done in summer 2017 made Ramsey High School more secure by creating an enclosed vestibule that restricts building access until a visitor has been cleared through a video camera and audio intercom system. Funding came from the district’s operating budget, but that funding source can’t cover costs for all schools without significant impact on our education focus. It could take a few years to gradually use operating funds to make these necessary improvements. The Referendum Committee’s proposal includes funds to complete similar vestibules at all schools, and to make other improvements related to safety and security. Rather than setting aside funds over the next few years, a voter-approved bond referendum would allow the district to complete the work in summer 2019.
Proposal: Install visitor vestibules at Tisdale, Hubbard, Dater and Smith schools. Improve security at all schools by adding video cameras linked to police, upgrading door locks, and applying safety film to first floor windows and doors.
High School Fine Arts
The high school’s outstanding band and chorus programs have attracted so many students that their instructional and practice spaces are no longer adequate.
- 60+ students meet and rehearse in the Lecture Hall, which was not in any way designed for music instruction.
- Lecture Hall lacks necessary storage space for Chorus and access to practice rooms; Chorus is often displaced because the Lecture Hall is constantly shared.
- Comprehensive Band Program, with 120+ students each year, does not have enough storage space to accommodate our instrument and equipment inventory.
- The full marching band will only fit in the auditorium for rehearsal, with students standing in each aisle and on the stage.
- No small practice rooms for student use.
Proposal: Create new instructional spaces including separate band and chorus rooms of adequate size; space to teach Fine Arts electives courses; practice rooms of various sizes, offices for teachers, and adequate storage. Establish a performing arts wing at the high school.
High School Fitness Center
Ramsey School District pledges to support student wellness, and a fitness center would be a key component of that mission.
- Dedicated place where all students can improve muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular development.
- Body and fitness improvements have proven to contribute to a student’s confidence and self-esteem.
- Investment in lifelong habits of well-being, which can help students avoid health deterrents such as drugs and alcohol.
Successful Rams pursue excellence on and off the field.
- Ramsey drastically lags behind other schools, both public and non-public, in this area.
- Competitors created fitness centers for their students more than 10 years ago.
- Schools with fitness centers use them not only for athletic improvement, but for wellness classes.
A fitness center could provide a service to the local community and generate revenue for the district.
- After students have left the building, a Fitness and Weight Training Facility could serve the adult school; residents could pay a fee to use the facilities.
- A multi-population concept could create another opportunity to build community relationships and generate revenue.
Proposal: Build a state-of-the-art fitness center to support our wellness initiative for students, to provide our student-athletes with the facilities necessary to improve their performance and compete at high levels, and provide a service to the local community.
High School Media Center
Today’s students don't use books as the basis for learning, nor do they simply absorb information from any one medium. Learning is a two-way street of both taking in and sending out information, and media are print, audio, video or a combination.
In a modern high school Media Center:
- Students participate fully in both media consumption and production.
- Students work together to produce the radio-style morning announcements, a school newspaper, a literary magazine, and the yearbook.
- There is ample space for students to create, collaborate and communicate, with smaller workrooms and flexible areas.
- Varied spaces allow students to innovate in the environment that suits them best, a hallmark of individualized learning.
Proposal: Create a functional, multi-purpose Media Center/Learning Commons that meets the learning styles of modern high school students.
High School Locker Rooms
Ramsey High School’s physical education program and extracurricular athletic program use the same areas as were built in 1938, even though both programs and enrollment have grown exponentially.
- All students are required to take Physical Education all four years of high school, and significant growth in the student body means that offering is straining our current facilities.
- Since the 1930s, RHS has grown from offering just 4 interscholastic sports to 27.
- Locker rooms experience hard use about 10 hours a day, involving every single Ramsey student in daily Physical Education classes and 80% of the student body participating in athletics.
- Re-arranged configuration would more efficiently give each student locker access during Physical Education classes.
- Added benches and whiteboards would allow the room to be used after school as teams and coaches discuss strategy and review film.
Proposal: Improve the existing Locker Rooms by purchasing new lockers, rearranging the set-up, and adding benches and whiteboards, all of which would serve the Wellness/Physical Education classes and the interscholastic sports program.
High School Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) and Wood Shop
While students in Ramsey High School’s Technology Education courses move between rooms to access various equipment, the overall space needs repair, replacement and redesign.
- Performance-based courses such as Woodworking, Engineering, Robotics and Architectural Drawing have students using industry-grade tools, machines, and programs.
- Students use the Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) Room for computers with speciality software, 3-D printing, and a makerspace that supports prototyping and testing. When more sophisticated equipment is necessary, CAD students and other makers can access equipment in the Wood Shop.
- The machinery is up-to-date and adequate for the volume of use, but the facility needs upgrades including an improved dust collection system, spray room, and refurbished ceiling. A reimagined layout would benefit safety, workflow, storage, and space efficiency. Better use of floor space could allow the addition of advanced technologies such as a computer numerical control (CNC) machine.
Proposal: Repair and redesign the Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) Room and Wood Shop for improved instructional capability, safety, and space efficiency.
Smith School Science Rooms
At Smith, science classrooms and lab space are inadequate to support science education as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards.
- Smith’s science program struggles to meet its goal of presenting opportunities for science inquiry: collaborative work using tools of the field to explore scientific phenomena.
- Physical placement of student desks and perimeter lab space (if any) doesn’t support high-quality collaboration.
- Difficult to organize lab investigations safely due to tables’ proximity to sinks, gas jets, and/or electrical outlets.
- Sixth grade program is limited by lack of water access or electrical outlets.
- Ramsey School District cannot evolve to an integrated science curriculum for grades 6-8 because every science classroom cannot accommodate physical science investigations.
Multiple band-aids and “work-arounds” have shifted science instruction over the years, but the classroom spaces present an insurmountable challenge.
Proposal: Create modern science classrooms that are designed to allow students to participate in the kinds of hands-on, collaborative learning activities that are necessary for students to meet and exceed the new standards.
Smith School Fine Arts
Scheduling changes have made the Smith music program more accessible to interested students, but the popular program faces inadequate instructional space.
- Typically more than 400 Smith students take part in the performing ensembles of band and chorus, and that’s on the rise.
- First year of new scheduling options boosted participation to 490 students.
- At current participation levels, the larger chorus ensembles barely fit in the chorus room; the bands squeeze onto the cafeteria stage for rehearsals; and lesson groups can’t fit in the teacher practice rooms.
- Storage for instruments and equipment is stretched past capacity.
Beyond being undersized, the spaces designated for the music program are ill-suited to today’s teaching.
- Outdated chorus room is poorly suited to teaching Music Exploratory courses that are heavily dependent on cooperative work and utilize a great deal of technology.
- Band space has significant acoustic problems and no practical teaching area.
Proposal: Create new instructional spaces for the Smith music department, including separate band and chorus rooms of adequate size, space to teach technology-based Music Exploratory courses, offices for teachers, practice rooms and storage.
Smith School STEM Room
Smith has come far in modernizing a former wood shop into a space that more broadly meets today’s instructional demands, but key developments are necessary to outfit it as a true STEM Room.
Once known as Wood Shop, the space has evolved to cater to Industrial Arts, a “makerspace,” an “innovation lab,” and other labels that fall under the Applied Technology umbrella. In addition to fabrication techniques and architectural drawing, the curriculum has broadened to include robotics, engineering, and design thinking. Despite all the evolution from an instructional standpoint, the space is still ideal for a wood shop. Targeted updates include the creation of a new Design Lab and a 3D Printing Area, plus the installation of a new dust collector and maximized storage.
Proposal: Modernize and update the STEM Room at Smith School to allow students to have continued opportunities for innovative learning.
Research shows Full-Day Kindergarten provides a solid foundation in the academic and social skills necessary for next stages. State academic standards are based on a more intensive curriculum, and full-day programs allow time to address those plus critical social and emotional learning. In addition, Full-Day Kindergarten gives students greater access to therapists and educational specialists, and that would be consistent with Ramsey’s goal of Achieving Excellence Through Equity.
Proposal: Expand to a Full-Day Kindergarten program that properly prepares our youngest students.