When the School City of Hammond in Indiana embarked on a fourteen-year plan to upgrade its twenty-four schools, "we began by creating a vision of what schools should be," says Bob Flach, the district's business manager.
The first schools targeted were the district's most dilapidated elementary facilities -- Maywood, Thomas A. Edison, and Oliver P. Morton. A committee of educators, administrators, architects, business people, and community members reviewed the schools' current problems and projected future needs based on demographic trends, reports on school reform, and local businesses' future plans. The group concluded that each school should serve about 500 students and support such innovations as cooperative learning and technology to "bring the world to student desktops."
Under the supervision of local site committees, the new Morton and Edison schools were finished in 1992. Maywood, due to soil contaminants found on the original site, opened two years later. Like the two other new schools, every area in Maywood is designed to be multipurpose.
Whereas Maywood's old classrooms were set up for just one instructional method -- students sitting in rows listening and working as a large group -- the new rooms are almost twice the size, with foldable walls, conference space, and common areas that accommodate a variety of teaching and learning activities. A media center in the building serves as the hub for electronic resources available in every classroom. The school also has office space for community service agencies, making them more accessible for working families.