By Dave Clifton
There’s a lot more to educational facilities than classrooms. From the library to the computer lab, auditorium to the cafeteria, each represents important, purposeful space where students experience enrichment. Schools need to balance the relationship between classrooms and these other learning and recreational environments in order to create harmony within the school. That means looking at education stack utilization.
Stack planning provides school administrators with a quick overview of spaces and their broad allocation within the context of the school. How many classrooms are there and what percentage of total space is allocated to them? What percentage of the school’s non-classroom square footage does the gymnasium represent? These questions factor not only into understanding school facilities, but in tailoring an environment that’s conducive to learning—no matter the subject matter or curricula.
What is education stack planning?
To better-manage different environments within the scope of a school or campus, administrators need to understand space allocation. To do that, they’ll consult a stack plan. The stack plan offers a high-level overview of space allocation by type, location, purpose, and numerous other variables. This information provides the context for everything from utilization rates to operational questions of efficiency.
Say, for example, a high school wants to add a new robotics lab to support its STEM program. The lab needs a full-time space that’s 30’ x 40’ to accommodate students and equipment. Where does the school come up with this space? Facility administrators can look at the stack plan to see several opportunities:
- Where in the school are there spaces large enough to support this?
- Which spaces are unused or underutilized that could make way for this new lab?
- If there are no open spaces, how can administrators rearrange rooms to make space?
Beyond supporting activities through better space allocation, stack planning also provides context. How much of the total facilities does this new lab take up? If it’s part of the STEM department group, how much of facilities do these spaces occupy? Stack plans provide at-a-glance insights about space distribution to pave the way for better decisions about it.
The benefits of education stack planning
In better-understanding space allocation at a high level, education facility managers can adapt it to the needs of students, faculty, and staff. Stack planning provides these insights quickly and with context, to influence decision-making in a variety of ways. Some of the key benefits include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of learners and educators
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility
Whether it’s a small elementary school or a huge college campus, stack planning offers a top-down look at where and how space exists, and what opportunities are available to maximize it. From adding a new robotics lab to ensuring there are enough dorms to accommodate out-of-state college students, the stack plan makes it simpler to take stock of space and purpose it accordingly.
Better function is only the beginning. Cost efficiency, safety, accessibility, and even compliance standards are all important facets of space planning and allocation. Stack plans are instrumental in ensuring administrators meet these needs and expectations.
How does education stack planning software help?
Few environments are as demanding to manage as educational facilities. The needs of students, faculty, and staff are ever-changing, and expectations for facilities grows with each passing semester. Stack planning software helps take the burden of manual space allocation off of administrators. Moreover, it provides much-needed information about facility usage to drive better decision-making about where and how to create powerful learning environments.
The cost of maintaining and improving educational facilities is consistently on the rise. Stack planning offers an effective tool in avoiding excessive cost due to inefficiency. Instead of building new facilities or adding on to existing buildings, stack planning software can identify unused or underutilized space and opportunities to repurpose it. Moreover, it can also provide context for facility costs according to utilization.
Above all, stack planning software offers insights that administrative professionals simply wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s worth knowing that the computer lab occupies 12% of total space on the second floor or that the science department’s classrooms stretch across four buildings, instead of one or two. These insights ultimately drive better space allocation, distribution, and floor planning.
Understand education space allocation
Stack planning is one tool in a series of space planning and allocation resources school administrators need to use. In the era of flipped classrooms, dynamic facilities, and experiential learning spaces, it’s vital to know how the space breaks down in a school—and how to use it effectively.
From single buildings to entire campuses, stack planning offers high-level insight about space. These metrics trickle down into more granular adjustments that enhance the student experience. By identifying space and pairing it with demand, administrators can adjust the stack plan to create a more cohesive (and inclusive) learning environment.
Keep reading: Facilities Management Software for Schools