The bond plan’s beginnings date back to 2008, when current and former students; employees; parents; and community, agency and business leaders came together to help Vancouver Public Schools craft a new strategic plan. That plan, called Design II, prioritized pre-kindergarten education, high-quality teaching, digital technology tools, family involvement, safety, positive school climates and programs that help students discover their unique talents and interests.
While VPS made gains in those areas over the next eight years, the district’s existing facilities did not accommodate all of the goals outlined in the plan. For example, lack of space due to overcrowding prohibited some schools from implementing Family-Community Resource Centers to increase family involvement. In other schools, space constraints meant that not every interested student could participate in programs.
The plan to replace, expand or upgrade every school in the district was developed over two years. To determine what’s best for students, VPS gathered input from students, parents, family members, staff members, volunteers, community members and district partners. In March 2015, the district conducted a survey about facility needs that captured responses from 1,500 people. Over the next year and a half, 12 symposia involving hundreds of people provided insights about schools and visions for the future of education. The district then worked with school staff members and professional architects to transform those ideas into design concepts. Feedback provided in community and online surveys and at staff presentations and open houses also helped to refine the plan.