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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

North Bethany School Costs Go Up

Posted by Peter W on October 19, 2007

The Beaverton School District has done new projections for the cost of providing schools for kids in North Bethany, and it doesn’t look good.

The first thing they’ve found is that people North of Hwy 26 have more kids:

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Posted in north bethany, planning, school, washington county | Leave a Comment »

Sustainability at PCC

Posted by Peter W on August 14, 2007

Sustainability Report Carbon Emissions

The Rock Creek Cycling Club (also known as the Rock Creek Bicycle Alliance) was recently featured in PCC’s 2007 Sustainability Report [PDF]. The image to the right shows that commuting makes up 49% of carbon emissions from campus, so its fair to say that the potential of bicycle commuting to help make PCC more earth friendly is huge! Below is an excerpt from the report:

The Rock Creek Cycling Club supports pedal-powered transit, organizes Sunday bike
rides, has established a campus bike system so employees located out at the farm can
ride to campus petrol-free; they are also setting up a bike maintenance program.

Posted in bikes, school, transportation | Leave a Comment »

Safe Routes to School in Oregon

Posted by Peter W on July 2, 2007

It’s been six years since 2001, when HB3712 was passed, which says:

“City and county governing bodies shall work with school district personnel to identify barriers and hazards to children walking or bicycling to and from school. The cities, counties and districts may develop a plan for the funding of improvements designed to reduce the barriers and hazards identified.”

I’m curious what has been happening with Safe Routes to Schools since then and what the current status is.

I know that Portland is doing a lot of SR2S stuff (although probably not enough) – check out PDOT’s SR2S website. Under “My School’s Travel Environment”, they have maps tailored to each school in the city, although when you click on most of them it tells you that the school hasn’t completed the safe routes to school program, so the map doesn’t yet show much more than other city maps do. For now the Portland Neighborhood Bike Maps are probably the best bet for kids biking to school. The PDOT SR2S also has a learning page including lessons for teachers and students, and safety and health info for parents.

In 2005, HB2742 passed, which is allocating $2.1 million for 2007 to schools, nonprofits, and local governments for infrastructure or noninfrastructure (e.g. education, enforcement, or encouragement) programs to promote biking and walking to schools. Applications are on walknbike.org.

WalkNBike.org also has a useful survey and tally sheet schools can use, along with a bunch of other SR2S info. It’s a very helpful site put up by the BTA and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.

A big question I have is – what are the counties doing? I know Washington County realizes that they should do something – check out section 8.6 from their transportation plan:

“8.6 Work with school districts, including individual schools, to identify barriers and hazards to children walking and bicycling to and from school. Develop strategies for funding improvements designed to reduce these barriers and hazards and give priority to these improvements in the Washington County Operations and Maintenance Work Program and the Transportation Capital Improvement Program.”

But what have they actually done? As far as I know, the BTA is consulting with the city of Beaverton and some schools, but I haven’t heard anything about Washington County being involved. And Aloha High School recently built more parking spaces as did Mooberry Elementary School in Hillsboro, so it seems not all of the Beaverton School District or the Hillsboro School District is on board.

The other question – so what if school districts, cities, or counties don’t participate? Are there any penalties?

There are an average of 137 school traffic related fatalities per year, according to the NHTSA “Traffic Safety Facts”. Getting to school isn’t worth dying for, so hopefully safe routes to school in Oregon will take off in the next few years and can help prevent at least some of those deaths (along with reducing traffic, decreasing obesity, and decreasing air polution).

Posted in bikes, planning, school, transportation, washington county | 2 Comments »

University Housing 2.0

Posted by Peter W on June 13, 2007

I haven’t moved in yet, but so far I’m not impressed with the student housing options at PSU.

Its not that its worse than at other schools — as far as I can tell they are all just as bland.

But couldn’t it be better? Check this out –

The MIT Simmons Hall looks both amazing and crazy at the same time (see architect’s page, photos, more info). Each dorm room has nine windows so you can do things like open the windows at the bottom and top to increase ventilation, and there are what look like giant holes in the side of the building, and cave like things bringing light into multiple stories, and really pretty staircases. Some of the cave like things even stick out into the hallways, which may be annoying if trying to squeeze lots of people through, but must make for an interesting experience. Mainly the residence hall just seems cool and exciting, and it is one of many cool new buildings being built at MIT. I wish I could say that buildings at PSU were that cool and exciting.

Looking around online, I didn’t find much else in the way of cool university housing, but Maple Hill Residence Hall in Arkansas looks nice. It isn’t amazing like the Simmons Hall, but it has a nice old mansion kind of appearance. I also like that it has a fireplace lounge on each floor – I think that adds to the “big old house” feel of it.

Apparently colleges are actually quite interested in Housing 2.0… so much so that the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International put up $25,000 prize money in a competition to design the next great dorm. The winner was flexDorm, according to this press release:

Stackable rooms, fold-out beds, and a one-piece sink and toilet are just some of the features that will be included in the residence hall of the future according to design concepts submitted by Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) of Boston, Massachusetts. These innovative ideas, along with technological advances such as a smart-media wall and glass walls with adjustable transparencies, earned the company the jury’s grand prize for best design…

But $25,000 is nothing compared to the $25-billion higher education construction industry. With schools spending that much, hopefully some of them are working on really great buildings.

So back to housing, what would make a really great Dorm 2.0?
Here’s some ideas for things that most dorms might not have:

  • a mini patio or deck for each room, or a shared terrace
  • window seats
  • lots of nice lighting
  • soundproof walls
  • quite study rooms and lounges
  • game rooms
  • exercise rooms
  • computer labs
  • movie room
  • nice furniture already in the rooms (optionally)
  • built in sound systems
  • wood floors
  • kitchens with mini fridge, stove, oven
  • high speed internet ports or wireless access
  • mixed uses including classrooms and businesses (like cafes) on the ground floor
  • sustainable features like a green roof with community garden, energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting, and recovering rainwater for use in the building (PSU’s Epler Hall is a pretty awesome example actually)

Posted in architecture, cool ideas, design, school | Leave a Comment »