K-12 District Master Planning

K-12 School Districts


K-12 Master Plans are living documents that provide a vision of what a district might look like in the future and a roadmap of how to get there. As portions of the plan are completed, the document is updated and evolves. We approach each master plan by helping our client envision the future while acknowledging that even the most well-developed plans will need to adjust and adapt over time. Community-specific infrastructure and varying budgets means that no two districts are alike and all balance different priorities.

From the outset, we need to consider changing demographics, distinct school conditions, and advancing technology and evolving pedagogy.

Over the past decade, SMMA’s Educational Planning Group has conducted over 40 master plans and feasibility studies, and programmed, designed, and implemented nearly $1.8 billion in Massachusetts and Rhode Island school construction. While all are different, each of these master plans provide an opportunity to reconsider how schools can impact and inspire children’s education, and create and define community identity.

Master Planning Community Engagement_by SMMA

Community Engagement

A successful master plan uses engagement techniques and data analysis to encourage community support and participation – we have a responsibility to see that public opinion informs the planning of these buildings, ensuring that they have a positive impact for decades to come. Our engagement process begins at public meetings where we invite conversation about neighborhood and community issues, and tie them to central design considerations for delivering quality education.

A Data Driven Process

Alongside these meetings, we collect quantitative and qualitative data, from facility effectiveness to operations and efficiency, to community surveys. The results of our analysis are conveyed in a digital data driven final deliverable, a hands-on roadmap for our clients. We know that master plans are not meant to sit on a shelf; they should be dynamic and support continued community involvement. We recently completed BuildBPS, a 10-Year Educational and Facilities Master Plan for Boston Public Schools. As our final deliverable, we created an interactive digital dashboard complete with individual school data and reports, and user-friendly data visualization tools.

Graphic showing a 3-step data driven process for developing K-12 Master Plans
Example table showing grade configuration for K-12 Master Planning by SMMA

Grade Configuration Options

Is your current configuration the best for your community?

Grade configuration options can be a daunting topic. It can be tempting to try to fit students into certain schools based purely on numbers, "who fits where," rather than consider which grade configurations will best support their learning, growth and development. We guide our communities through a detailed consideration process, leaving them comforted that, in the end, they explored all options.

21st Century Education

Teaching and learning has significantly changed over the years, moving from a stand and deliver approach to student-centric and personalized delivery methods. Significant methods include project based learning, and differentiated and blended learning.  Educational planning needs to not only accommodate but enhance these pedagogies. We consider building layouts and room adjacencies that reflect educational pathways and support 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, creativity, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

High school students playing musical instruments in large classroom

SMMA benefits from an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP): Philip J. Poinelli. As an educational planning expert, he ensures that the final study supports a visionary educational framework that meets the needs of the entire school-age population, educators and the community.