Thank you visiting the FAQ section of our website! This is where we will put answers to the questions we receive most frequently. Please check back often!
Q: Why is the district pursuing facility improvement projects during a pandemic? Shouldn’t the focus be on keeping students and staff safe, while maintaining the best educational environment possible?
A: It is understandable that some may wonder why the district would choose these challenging times in education to address facility improvements. To put this in context… Our research into these projects began almost two years ago and was the result of being able to see the significant difference improved learning spaces have made at our early childhood center, Fifth Grade Center and high school. These improvements not only enhanced educational opportunities, but also increased the safety of these students and staff in this schools and decreased maintenance and utility costs, even in cases where square footage was added.
Our original intent was to create multiple opportunities for our community to learn about these projects during the spring and fall of 2020 with the potential of moving forward with a bond referendum in the spring of 2021, if there was sufficient community support. However, those plans clearly had to change when the pandemic refocused our energy and resources on virtual learning, and in-person gatherings were no longer possible.
However, if we do not move forward with a bond referendum in April 2021, our next logical opportunity will be April 2022. Therefore, we are bringing these projects to our community’s attention now to gain feedback on the level of support we have for pursuing them, as well as the timeframe in which they should occur.
Q: Will education be disrupted by construction? (Updated Oct. 19, 2020)
One of our requirements when selecting the architectural and construction management firms for these projects was that they have extensive experience in working on and in educational settings. This was not only because they would have experience designing and building for the intended functionality of the spaces, but because they would also be accustomed to developing plans for construction that allow the educational process to continue safely and effectively. In addition, and as we learned when renovating our high school, existing space can be used creatively to keep from having the expense or inconvenience of temporary classrooms (trailers) and our design and construction teams will assist us in developing those logistical plans, as well.
S.M. Wilson, our construction management firm, has developed an overall Phasing Schedule and the following individual school Phasing Plans to illustrate how the Old Bonhomme, Spoede and middle school projects would be approached, including which portions can be done while school is in session and which parts will need to be completed during summer break and other times when students are not on the campus.
- Old Bonhomme Elementary School Phasing Plan
- Spoede Elementary School Phasing Plan
- Ladue Middle School Phasing Plan
Q: What are our enrollment trends? Why are some of our schools so crowded? (Oct. 16, 2020)
Linked below are charts that show enrollment trends for our schools and district as a whole for the last ten years. Following an increase of more than 25% between 2003 and 2014, enrollment growth overall has slowed considerably in the last eight years. However, the distribution of our elementary schools has changed with Old Bonhomme and Spoede Elementary Schools now having considerably higher enrollment than Conway and Reed Elementary Schools.
- K-4 Elementary Enrollment (since opening of the Fifth Grade Center in 2013)
- Fifth Grade Center, Ladue Middle School and Ladue Horton Watkins High School Enrollment
- Total District Enrollment
Not only is enrollment considerably higher at Old Bonhomme and Spoede, the Conway and Reed Elementary Schools facilities have two additional distinct advantages, despite being older than the other two schools. The classrooms, on average, are considerably larger and the architecture of these buildings is such that there is a great deal of natural light throughout most of the buildings.
The enrollment at Ladue Middle School has remained relatively flat for the last ten years, and while some additional classrooms are needed, the major challenge is the size of the classrooms. They were built for desks in rows and are much smaller than today’s teaching and learning styles require.
In short, with these improvements, we are addressing “tightness” that has existed for a long time at Old Bonhomme, Spoede and Ladue Middle School, not recent, significant increases in enrollment.
Q: Why is there consideration of adding classroom space for Pre-Kindergarten at Spoede and Old Bonhomme Elementary Schools? How does this impact programming at the Ladue Early Childhood Center? (Oct. 16, 2020)
This question is best answered by reviewing the Early Childhood Education section of this website.
Q: Will the requests for taxpayer approval of “more and more” facilities improvements ever stop? (Oct. 16, 2020)
Maintaining our district facilities and ensuring they are designed to support and maintain our district’s tradition of educational excellence will always be a priority. However, one of the primary reasons our Board of Education has pursued the projects currently under consideration for our four K-4 elementary schools and Ladue Middle Schools is that, by completing them, all district schools will be considered future ready. In other words, there is no foreseeable reason why additional requests of our taxpayers will need to be made for many years to come once these final projects are completed.
Q: What impact has COVID-19 had on the design process? (October 19, 2020)
COVID-19 has reinforced the need for educational settings to have ample space for distancing, as well as features that promote and allow frequent hand sanitizing. The following features are included in the design currently under consideration.
- Handwashing stations near or in the gyms, cafeterias, playgrounds, entrances and exits.
- Wetlabs with silks in all classroom “pods” so that staff and students don’t have to go to a restroom to wash their hands.
- Larger classrooms that are more conducive to social distancing, as well as today’s teaching and learning best practices.
- Outdoor learning spaces.
- Touchless (hands-free) sensors on all faucets and toilets.
- Advanced air filtration systems which bring in more fresh air while also treating and filtering recycled air.
Q: In light of COVID-19, how will we ensure health safety on our campuses during construction? (October 19, 2020)
It is certainly our hope that the pandemic will pose much less risk to our students and staff by the time any of our schools are under construction. However, S.M. Wilson, the district’s selected construction management firm, has had to develop extensive plans as the company continued to work throughout the pandemic. These strategies will remain in place for as long as required and can be found in the document linked here: S.M. Wilson’s Ladue Schools COVID-19 Strategy.
More to come…
Answers to the questions most frequently asked at our virtual community engagement meetings will continue to be posted here. More information will be added soon on the following topics:
- What accessibility features are included in these projects?
- What are the components of the projects that will improve safety and security in these schools?
- How will we ensure physical safety on our campuses during construction?
- What specific technology improvements are being incorporated in these projects?
- Do all of these open spaces in the design create acoustical challenges?
- Were the learning styles of different cultures considered?
- How would an increase in interest rates impact the cost of completing these projects?
- Could the carpool situation at Conway be improved as part of the improvements being made on that campus?
- Where will the new gymnasiums at Reed Elementary School and Conway Elementary School be located? What will they look like?
- What will happen to the spaces where the current gymnasiums are at Reed and Conway?
- Will the driveway and parking lot reconfigurations at Old Bonhomme Elementary School relieve traffic issues in the neighborhood?