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Smart Remodeling

A Work In Progress, blog from The Gazette serving Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Regions | September 30, 2013

by Stephanie Earls  

Neglected schools translate to neglected students, according to a new study in the journal Building and Environment. Shocker.  

Many moons ago when I was in school, the rage in academic renovations revolved around updated color schemes. Over the course of one summer, crews descended to paint all the high school's antediluvian cinder block walls a pale and sickly mint green. Apparently, studies found the shade conducive to learning. Conducive to lunch it was not.  

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The academic year has just started, but for students at the 75 percent of schools in need of repairs, crumbling classrooms may be hindering learning. In fact, a new study has revealed that factors such as worn-out furniture and poor lighting can reduce student achievement by up to 25 percent.  

"There's more to educational achievement than teachers and curriculum," said Dick Resch, CEO of KI Furniture, a leader in the educational furniture marketplace. "To ensure that students reach their full potential, educational leaders must acknowledge the effect that school design has on student achievement - and invest in facilities that address the way that students learn today."  

Modern research shows that students perform better in rooms bathed in natural light. "Visually stimulating," ergonomic tables and chairs, as well as complexity and color in the classroom also help increase student achievement.  

KI has advocated approaches like these in schools for years. The company works with administrators and designers to transform all available spaces within a school into "learning spaces," with smart whiteboards in the hallways, movable walls and furniture to easily reconfigure classrooms, and comfortable commons-area seating that allows students to keep learning outside the classroom.  

"Updating America's education system for current and future generations of students will involve more than changing what goes on in schools," said Resch. "It will require us to rethink school buildings themselves." 

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