"In the Know" Weekly Newsletter - The International School

Campus Master Plan - update

Last week, the Campus Master Plan Committee held its first meeting with Mahlum, the architecture and planning firm the Board recently hired to help us write our campus master plan. The meeting was led by Mahlum's Managing Partner, the architect, and the project manager and planner. The TIS committee is comprised of myself, Dr. Orsini, three more Trustees, parents, faculty, and administrative staff members.  The committee is chaired by Trustee and TIS parent Bryan Higgins, who brings a great deal of design and planning experience to this project. It was an incredible meeting, focusing on our individual and collective vision of the school.

The Campus Master Plan (CMP) is the physical articulation of the school's strategic plan. What does that mean exactly? The school's strategic plan, which you can read via Board of Trustees page (use the 2011-2012 All-Parent Password)  on the TIS website, sets forth The International School's mission, vision, and core values. Guided by these three elements, the plan sets forth strategic goals for all facets of the school: students, faculty, programs, facilities, finances, leadership and management, school culture, and school community (families and alumni). The Board, guided by both the strategic plan and Dr. Orsini's leadership, has determined that new facilities are required if we are to meet our objectives set forth in the plan. These objectives that were the product of an intensive community-wide effort that involved faculty, parents, and students.

It is imperative that I stress that growth in enrollment is not driving our plan to construct new facilities. True, we are steadily growing to our capacity in terms of classroom space and other facilities. However, the engine driving this process is our desire to have facilities that enable the school to better serve the educational and community needs of our students, teachers, and families. Here's a short list of our wants and needs: We want a larger gym that is better equipped for PE classes and other school and community activities. We want additional art and music space so we can enhance our students' opportunities to experience these classes. We want classrooms that are better designed to meet the requirements of our IB/PYP program. We want outdoor play areas that we know will be there in the future (we currently lease the playground space). We want experts to present options for improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

Securing our future is a significant factor in our Campus Master Plan. We want space that we can call our own. Currently, TIS leases much of its space. These leases expire in 2014, as do options to purchase land comprising most of the block on which Stearns Hall sits. We currently own the land beneath Stearns Hall and the soccer field. We want to own the entire block so we can start investing in ourselves rather than make rent payments elsewhere.

We have asked Mahlum to finish the CMP prior to the Board's December meeting. Although this is an ambitious timetable, 2014 looms large in the distance; fortunately, Mahlum is wasting no time diving into this project. Tomorrow, Mahlum will be on campus to meet with faculty and administrative staff to learn about their experiences with TIS and what they see as the school's facility/classroom needs. Mahlum also will meet with parents who are interested in sharing their ideas about the school. Look for Dr. Orsini's In the Know invitation to participate in this session.

The Campus Master Plan Committee will meet many times with Mahlum in October and November. Eventually, this process will result in design options, which we then will bring to you for comment and consideration. It is important that you have a voice in this process, which is why we've established an email address where you can submit comments for us to pass along to Mahlum: campusplan@intlschool.org.

Scott Kerman, Board President, board@intlschool.org