Effective Practices : Facilities Use
School Operations Section 4
1. Describe the system by which rooms are assigned for use throughout the school day.
2. Are the scheduled hours and reason for use posted on the door of each classroom?
3. If someone needs to hold a meeting or hold a special class session, how are rooms reserved for this purpose?
4. By what means are rooms reserved for special activities such as after school music lessons, special tutoring, or after school club activities? Is it possible for a standing reservation for room usage to be made? How does this work?
5. Does your school allow the usage of its facilities by any outside groups? How are decisions to permit an outside use of the building made? What requirements or restrictions does your school place on the use of the facilities by outside groups?
6. Describe your school’s philosophy with regard to usage of school facilities.
7. Is there some aspect of your facilities use practices that is particularly effective?
8. If you could change some aspect of your school’s facilities use practices, what would you change and why?
Describe the system by which rooms are assigned for use throughout the school day.
In most schools room usage for the year is developed along with the teaching schedule. Schools often times establish the schedules for room usage in the spring for the upcoming school year, although changes can happen over the summer due to unexpected personnel changes.
Rooms are first made available for their primary purpose (science classes in the lab, etc.). The primary purpose of a particular room stays fairly constant from year to year, although changes are sometimes made. For example, one school reported having an unusually large class in one grade, which requires a very large classroom. As there are few classrooms of this size the class stays in the same room each year, rather than moving from the traditional grade one room to the grade two classroom.
In some schools class and classroom scheduling is done by a single person. Others report having this duty shared by a high school and lower school representative so that class schedules can be successfully coordinated between the lower and high schools. Another school reported that room assignment is done by the faculty. It should be noted that this school has very limited space and no high school so the faculty is only involved in making exceptions to a very well established room assignment protocol.
Room assignment in the early childhood area is usually quite straightforward, with little need for any special coordination in that area. The one exception to this occurs when a school is working to create a parent-tot program and lacks a separate classroom that can be dedicated for this purpose. In these cases space is usually created by using classrooms that are primarily used for three day a week nursery programs.
Are the scheduled hours and reason for use posted on the door of each classroom?
Some schools post the schedule on the door of classrooms that are used by multiple teachers. Others post this information in the faculty room so that everyone can easily see which rooms are available at a particular time.
If someone needs to hold a meeting or hold a special class session, how are rooms reserved for this purpose?
In many schools the room reservation process is handled by the office coordinator. In schools with very limited space room needs during the school day are coordinated by the individual teachers.
One school reported that it has an online room usage calendar that is administered in the business office. The system allows teachers to go online and note that a room will be used for a special purpose on a certain time and date. Parents and other groups wanting to use a room must make a request through the school’s operating committee. Once the request is approved then it is entered online so that anyone looking at the room usage calendar can see it.
By what means are rooms reserved for special activities such as after school music lessons, special tutoring, or after school club activities? Is it possible for a standing reservation for room usage to be made? How does this work?
In many schools the office coordinator is responsible for room assignment for special activities that take place after school has ended for the day. Oftentimes these requests must first be approved by the school’s operating committee, and the office coordinator will make the reservation only once the approval has been received.
Every school reported a process for making standing reservations for certain classrooms. In many cases non-faculty members are required to sign a room usage agreement if a room will be used on an ongoing basis.
Does your school allow the usage of its facilities by any outside groups? How are decisions to permit an outside use of the building made? What requirements or restrictions does your school place on the use of the facilities by outside groups?
Most schools do allow their facilities to be used by outside groups. One school noted that it has a very restrictive site use situation in the residential neighborhood in which it operates and that the use of the facility by outside groups not associated with the school is therefore not allowed. Some schools noted that while they are willing for outside groups to use their facility this does not happen on a very frequent basis.
Outside groups are usually required to sign a simple contract that outlines the conditions of use. Rent is often charged to outside groups using the school, although this may be waived in the case of activities that are viewed as supporting the pedagogy (e.g. private music lessons).
One school in our study reported that it has consciously worked to have their school seen as a cultural meeting place for the community, and has developed a fair amount of off hour usage of their rooms. Rental fees range from$25 for a classroom up to $75 a day for larger spaces. The school generates about $6000 in income a year, more than enough to offset the additional operating expense incurred. The school also requires groups to provide an insurance rider that names the school as an additional insured.
Describe your school’s philosophy with regard to usage of school facilities.
We try to offset the expense of offering the rooms, but work to make the facilities available to as many groups as possible.
Anthroposophic institutions receive first priority for booking rooms.
We are careful that the booking of the rooms does not affect our ability to maintain the buildings. Sometimes summertime requests are turned down as repair work may be scheduled so that the room is ready for the students when school reopens.
We want as many groups as possible to come on the campus so we can showcase the school to the larger community.
We want to do as much as we can with the little we have. In most cases this is a first come first served situation in terms of site usage.
The school does support the work of outside people (instrumental lessons, therapeutic eurythmy, tutors, etc.) who are directly connected with the pedagogy.
We are very conscious of the effect that events have on our neighborhood, and work to ensure positive relations with our neighbors.
The rooms belong to the school, not to the teacher who spends most of the time in a classroom. Even a class teacher must reserve his or her room to hold a class parent evening.
The first priority is ensuring that the students and the classes have their needs met.
Reservations for space are handled on a first come first served basis. Events that are organized by the faculty or Parent Council (such as outside speakers, etc.) are set well in advance.
The school is a cultural center and local activities are supported.
Outside activities are supported if there is a connection between that activity and someone in the school community.
Is there some aspect of your facilities use practices that is particularly effective?
We have a group that looks at everything going on during the year and works to ensure that we do not get overwhelmed, either from a facilities or a personnel perspective.
The number of rooms on our campus is limited so room use is fairly straightforward and does not need much oversight.
Some events are held at an outside venue such as a local high school auditorium, church, or the Anthroposophical Society Building. The flexibility of using these other spaces allows some events to be opened to all students, extended families and friends as well.
Having one person coordinate all after school usage is very effective. She handles all bookings and the billings.
The fact that we have our rates set relatively low means that our rooms get a lot of use, and we can truly serve as a meeting place for the community.
The online calendar is very effective. It was specially made and is accessed through the school’s web site. Employees are each given a password that allows them to see and enter room reservations online. Non-employees must go through the business office.
The school utilizes a sliding rental scale with various rates being charged to related associations, outsiders, and members of the school community proper.
If you could change some aspect of your school’s facilities use practices, what would you change and why?
The facilities use system is well established and works well. We can’t change human nature so we still need to track down keys that aren’t returned and other problems, but the system itself works very well.
We need to request payment at the time of the reservation so we are not spending time billing after the fact.
It is hard to tell a teacher that he/she does not own his classroom. It belongs to the school. They need to schedule their evening class meetings just like anyone else. We continue to work for improved understanding in this area.