I recently attended a Southern California Development Forum breakfast called “New Developments in Education,” featuring a distinguished panel of education leaders from UCLA, Green Dot Public Schools and Charter School Facilities who discussed new trends in campus development, charter school development and multi-disciplinary facilities.
In 1919, when UCLA was first built, the media predicted that because of its location, the school would only have farmers as its students and neighbors. Almost 100 years later, the school is completing billions of dollars’ worth of new construction and renovations, including new student housing, more “green space” and a proposed Metro station at the Wilshire/Westwood intersection. Peter Hendrickson, Associate Vice Chancellor Design & Construction for UCLA, discussed numerous projects slated for completion in 2012, and new construction and renovations in the pipeline – developments warranted by the current 30,000 undergraduate students, 29,000 faculty/staff members and 12,000 graduate students.
Ken Zeff of Green Dot Public Schools and Dan Kreinbring of Charter School Facilities discussed the charter school movement and the need for more individuals to get involved. Currently, charter schools represent four percent of total schools, with 1,000 charter schools planned to be open in California by the end of 2012. Charter schools have a distinct advantage over traditional public schools in terms of increased flexibility related to building and design. The speakers emphasized that the more than $75 million spent on charter school construction over the past three years is evidence that they are continuing to grow, construct new campuses and complete renovations on existing ones.
While other markets begin to recover, education development remains strong and, by the look of things, is only getting stronger.