Vancouver Public Schools will hold a community design symposium on May 27. Approximately 70 people including students, parents, teachers, principals, district administrators and community partners will participate in the one-day symposium. Their task: examine current trends and best practices in elementary school design, and identify elementary facility design principles for VPS schools.

Dr. Robert Barr, dean emeritus of the college of education at Boise State University will speak to the group about creating a “culture of hope” in schools where all students, regardless of their background and family circumstances, can grow and thrive. Education facility planners from LSW Architects of Vancouver will bring the visioning process to life through sketches and illustrations.

The symposium is part of a comprehensive facilities planning process. District administrators began assessing school needs last fall. A community symposium held in November involved 70 staff and community members to discuss how modern school buildings could support teaching and learning now and in the future. An online survey in March generated approximately 1,500 written comments from staff and community members regarding school needs.

Ultimately, the planning process and symposium activities will help district leaders craft a proposal to bring more Vancouver school facilities up to 21st century standards. “Schools and programs that support high-quality teaching and learning outcomes are integral to the district’s Design II, Chapter 2 strategic plan, which helps to ensure that all of our students are future-ready,” said VPS Superintendent Steve Webb.

If approved by the superintendent and school board, a bond measure to pay for school construction and facility improvements could go before voters in 2016.