The RISD student population is growing. Because Lake Highlands offers affordable housing, good location and great schools, the number of students could double within the next 20 years.

RISD Trustees are working on a Master Planning Strategy to accommodate this influx of families.

For the last year, Vanderweil Facility Advisors and our staff have performed a comprehensive study of RISD facilities, resulting in a dynamic database of current and future needs.

We evaluated each building on three levels. In Phase One, Facilities Condition Assessment, we received each building’s current condition. Our buildings are old. Ten were built in the ’50s, 25 in the ’60s, 19 in the ’70s, one in the ’80s and six in the ’90s. The Administration Building is a historic landmark built in 1914.

Just as the water heater and furnace in your house wear out over time, our building systems are nearing exhaustion, too. So in the Facilities Condition Assessment Phase, we’re identifying and prioritizing maintenance cycles, deficiencies, code compliance issues and technology refresh cycles.

In Phase Two, Functional Equity Assessment, we compared each building to the newest RISD schools as functional models. Thus, Forest Lane Academy, Lake Highlands Freshman Center and Berkner High School provide our baseline.

Phase Three, Educational Adequacy, evaluates each facility based upon historical and internal knowledge, national trends and RISD’s vision of the future. We’re looking at existing sites for expansion potential, identifying new school needs, and reviewing the classroom additions and renovations required to support existing and enhanced programs.

Each Phase is summarized in short- and long-range funding needs.

Data gathering and compilation were completed last month; staff analysis and recommendations for the first two phases are due Oct. 31. The Educational Adequacy phase requires more visioning and brainstorming by the staff and trustees.

Then, we’ll take recommendations to the community for your input.

Our work product will be a 20-year Master Planning Strategy. We hope to bring a bond election to public vote sometime in Spring 2001.

We’re about to complete all projects funded by the $174.6 million bond package authorized by the voters in 1996. We’ve published our progress, stayed on schedule, and brought the projects in on budget. We’ve worked hard to earn your trust in the management of your tax dollars.

As we move toward another bond program, we’ll demonstrate that the recommended projects are data-driven, equitable for all students and a wise investment in maintaining and strengthening our community.