The adjustable classroom sets allow seating and workspaces to be easily reconfigured to meet the needs of students and teachers and provide more opportunity and space for collaboration, EISD Deputy Superintendent Jeff Arnett said.
“The tables and seating can be quickly rearranged depending on classroom size, lessons, or projects students are involved in,” Arnett said. “We have been in a pilot phase the last two years, mostly at the high school level. Feedback from teachers and students has been overwhelming—they enjoy the furniture and flexibility of arrangements.”
The district identified the goal to replace classroom furniture as part of the 2015 bond. The pilot phase provided furniture to 29 classrooms, Arnett said. The total purchase order will be for about $1.3 million.
The 2015 bond contained a $2 million line item to replace and update furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
Since then, the district has been gathering data to determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the new furniture. After informing the committee and assessing the data and information from teachers and students, they determined it was time to enter phase 1.
As part of phase 1, the board of trustees approved the purchase of 90 classroom sets funded by the 2015 bond, as well as a donation of four classroom sets from the Forest Hill and Bridge Point Elementary schools and Hill Country Middle School booster clubs.
“Rather than purchase traditional classroom furniture, the district elected to use a portion of the bond funds to pilot 21st Century Flexible Furniture in a number of Westlake High School classrooms beginning in the fall of 2016,” a staff report said. “Based on the positive experiences of the teachers and students involved in the pilot, the district moved ahead with a committee that was charged with developing standards for all grade levels.”
This purchase will outfit 32 upper elementary school classrooms, 32 middle school classrooms and 30 high school classrooms for the price of about $14,000 per classroom set.
“The goal is to keep going,” Arnett said. “Of course we have hundreds of classrooms—in all likelihood the next phase would be financed in a future bond issue. The ultimate goal would be to outfit all classrooms in the district with some form of flexible furniture.”