As announced recently, Buckingham Friends School is creating a Facilities Master Plan this year to guide future improvements of its facilities.  Our architects, Jim Childress and Beth Hedde from Centerbrook Architects and Planners of Essex, CT hosted many meetings on campus for two days, meeting with the entire faculty in a series of meetings, the School Board, the administration, and our Steering Committee.  They also led an audio/video meeting with students in grades 5-8.  Everyone was impressed with the quality of their engagement and the ability to listen carefully. 

During the next two weeks, our planning process will pause as BFS will be hosting six members of an accreditation visiting team assigned by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS). PAIS is a not-for-profit voluntary membership organization serving more than 100 independent schools, representing close to 40,000 compulsory school age students, in Pennsylvania and Delaware.  As an association which provides member services, PAIS represents and supports independent schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Delaware. It develops and offers services which strengthen member schools, including, but not limited to, a means to standards -based accreditation for schools nursery through grade 12, professional development for school personnel, legislative updates and analyses, and promotion and advocacy locally and nationally.

The full accreditation review process occurs every ten years and is structured around carefully thought-out standards, self-evaluation, peer-review, and follow-up.  To prepare for the review and campus visit by a PAIS accreditation team, the faculty, administration, and Board first reflected on our programs, policies, and practices and identified areas to strengthen.  During the past eighteen months, we then assessed ourselves against an extensive series of standards to ensure that we are implementing best practices in every area and produced a 150-page report for PAIS. This has been a wonderful opportunity for BFS to evaluate its programs and policies while setting goals for future improvement.

Jim Childress and Beth Hedde of Centerbrook will return to BFS in late February to engage with a large Workshop Committee comprised of members from all of BFS’s stakeholder groups including 1. faculty, 2. Board members, 3. current parents, 4. former parents, 5. students, 6. alumni, 7. Steering Committee members, and 8. members of Buckingham Monthly Meeting.  They limit this group to about 60 participants, the number that our architects have found is ideal based on their commitment to process, a single group format (versus several breakout groups), and shared listening and participation. 

While the Workshop Committee is limited in size, it is important to us to provide everyone with an opportunity to provide input, and I write to offer four options for you to consider:

  1. Jim and Beth will facilitate a meeting with interested parents from 4:00-5:15 PM on Friday, February 21 in the Library.  Childcare is available by signing up for After School.
  2. I will host a morning meeting from 8:30-10:00 AM on Wednesday, February 19 in the Meetinghouse.
  3. If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, please consider writing to me at plindenmaier@bfs.org so that I can send you a brief series of questions to answer and return.  I will forward your responses to our architects.
  4. Reach out to me via email to schedule a time to talk or meet with me.

To review information from earlier mailings, Centerbrook has been hired to guide us in the creation of a plan that will allow us to improve, adapt, and answer our big questions:

  • what do we envision will be the solutions to our gym and arts buildings?
  • how can we capitalize on this process of planning to consider other buildings and integrate architectural solutions to advance our strategic plan and goals for teaching and learning?
  • how can we understand our current site and facilities conditions so that we can anticipate what we may need to contend with in the future?
  • and how can we realistically estimate costs so that the Board can prioritize and phase projects in an informed manner?

We would greatly value your input during this important process and hope you can join us on February 19 or 21.  If you have any questions, please contact me via email or call me at 215.794.7491.

Sincerely, Paul

The Master Facilities Planning Steering Committee: Michael Godshall, Co-Clerk, Clerk of the School Board, Former parent; Paul Lindenmaier, Co-Clerk, Head of School; Robert Roop, Co-Clerk, School Board member, Former parent; Dann Connelly, Buckingham Monthly Meeting; Lauren Cortright, Faculty, Former parent; Richard Cox, Faculty; Matthew Eaton, Current parent; Doug Haigh, Director of Finance & Operations, Former parent; Kara Shaw, Faculty, Current parent; Sara Webster, Former parent and School Board member; and JP Wasicko, Buckingham Monthly Meeting, Former parent

PS To re-read more about our process and Centerbrook, please visit my blog post at https://paullindenmaierheadofschoolblog.bfssb.org/2020/01/08/our-facilities-planning-process-for-buckingham-friends-school/

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