By Christopher R. Morral, Project Consultant / Educational Liaison
Feasibility studies help K-12 school districts assess the practicality of a proposed project. An objective and rational tool, the study reveals the strengths and weaknesses of existing school demographics while uncovering opportunities and threats present in the district. A feasibility study also outlines the action items and resources that will be required to carry the project through to completion.
Where do you begin? Hiring a third party consultant to facilitate the process brings industry expertise to the team, which is critical in identifying the deliverables within a school feasibility study. A third party consultant can assist the school district with hiring the firm who will conduct the feasibility study. Through ongoing collaboration, the third party consultant will work with the building committee, school administration, and project team from the initial kick-off through the presentation of results. In many instances, third-party consultants function as a liaison between the firm completing the study and the committee members helping to ensure that the study progresses according to the identified deliverables.
Snapshot of a qualified third party consultant:
• Expertise in construction industry
• Aware of what’s trending in education
• Ability to evaluate the physical condition of school facilities
• Versed on district demographics, including enrollment projections and physical space requirements
• Knowledge of local, state, and national political climate
• Clear understanding of district’s strategic plan
• Historical knowledge relevant to district facilities and programming
Hiring a third party consultant does not negate a school district’s responsibility for ensuring that the feasibility study is conducted properly. School district leaders and committee members should be engaged in the project and the evaluation process, understand the issues involved, question the basic assumptions used in the study, and challenge its conclusions.
Throughout the study it is important for district committee members to keep the project committee needs and interests in mind, while addressing relevant issues and concerns. For these reasons, school district leaders and committee members should expect to be heavily involved in the process and accessible during all stages of the feasibility study.
Checklist of deliverables for your Feasibility Study:
• A written report of the facility’s physical condition, cost of repairs and code compliance, and prioritization of any needed repairs. Any scheduled replacement of large cost items such as roofs over the next ten (10) year period should be included.
• A written report based on enrollment projections, educational and programmatic priorities, and community needs relative to existing building capacity, classroom, and future core space.
• A written report detailing both a current and future facilities plan based on input from all stakeholder groups.
• A comprehensive multi-year, prioritized facilities plan of action that lays out the timelines and cost for meeting the district’s facility and capital improvement needs for a period of ten (10) years with specific action items pertinent to educational goals and district initiatives.
• Identify projects eligible for State reimbursement or other sources of funding if appropriate.
As a result of completing a thorough and objective feasibility study, school leaders and all stakeholder groups can better understand the critical issues they are facing, while working to develop a comprehensive plan.
Chris brings more than 20 years of educational experience along with a comprehensive understanding of issues facing public education today. They include school safety, pupil/personnel issues, employment law, school law, curriculum development, and construction processes. In his most recent role as Superintendent of Schools, Chris demonstrated a thorough understanding of the unique challenges facing school boards, superintendents, and communities. Chris has successfully helped many school districts through capital projects, feasibility studies, safe schools initiatives, and curricular evaluation. Chris understands 21st century learning and has assisted school leaders in growing professional learning communities where administrators and teachers collaborate, share ideas, and continue to learn and grow in their professional roles for the benefit of students.