Mike Nicklas: Cheap schools needed

July 25, 2013 

Cheap schools needed

To see the future of Wake County’s schools if the county commissioners take over control of school construction, look no further than what occurred when design firms interested in pursuing bond projects were informed of the new design criteria for schools.

Relayed to the 30-plus firms in attendance was the fact that if the school system was to receive county commission bond support only one criteria really mattered – the schools better be among the cheapest in North Carolina.

I repeatedly asked the question as to why only first cost was mentioned as being important. Why wasn’t energy performance, durability, quality or daylighting being considered? It appeared that operating cost did not matter, the quality of the teaching spaces or the experiential learning aspects of the design and, in turn the performance of the students, did not matter. The response that I got back was that if the school system was to get funding from the county commissioners, it better be cheap.

Having been involved in the design of 150 sustainable schools with exceptional experiential learning opportunities and quality learning environments, including four schools for WCPSS, we declined to submit for any of the schools if this was the criteria.

Mike Nicklas

President, Innovative Design

Raleigh

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