The sounds of construction can be heard as Darcy Weisner steps into what will be the “Classroom for the Future.”
Weisner, Educational Service District 123’s superintendent, points to the future locations of monitors, speakers, LED lighting and other features inside the expansion of the Pasco facility.
“This is really central to our innovation (and) what education could be,” he says. “There will be computers. There will be sound. There will be projectors. ... Teachers can come in here. We want them to come. We want to bring classes. We’ll have modular furniture. We can do a lot of different things for creative learning to take place in here.”
The classroom is one of the highlights of the expansion of Educational Service District 123’s Professional Development Center. It will provide teachers a laboratory in which they can learn new methods to educate students with new technology.
The classroom also allows school districts to try new technologies before they decide to purchase the equipment.
The $3.6 million 12,000-square-foot building is expected to be finished by mid-December.
The building is an expansion to the district’s professional development center on Pasco’s Court Street. The existing building was dedicated in January 2005. The district provides services to 146 public and 22 private schools in seven counties in southeastern Washington.
The addition will more than double the center’s capacity. It currently has two classrooms, one of which can house about 26 people and the other holds about 100 people.
Molly Curtiss, the district’s communication and graphics coordinator, says the present configuration limits what people can do with the space. Either they have to fit everyone into the smaller room or use the larger room and have more space than they need.
“We just ran out of space,” Weisner says. “We have a big conference room over there but this one is bigger.”
Weisner walks upstairs into the new large meeting room, which can hold at least 150 people.
He points out the two retractable walls allowing the service district to divide the space how they need it. Each of the possible rooms has a screen and eight speakers set into the ceiling.
“From an aspect standpoint, you’ll be able to see anything everywhere, and hear everywhere,” Weisner says.
The essential goal of constructing the building is to provide more opportunities for the district’s staff to provide services, the superintendent says.
“Now you literally can have 150 people in here, 100 people over there (and) another 40 downstairs,” he said. “So it’s almost 300 people at one point in this building. Then we have another 30 we can serve in the other building.”
For Jill Ihly, the South Central Region’s Information Service Center director, the additional space means she can hold larger training sessions.
“We are a support center for school districts that uses Skyward software for tracking student records as well as finances, human resources, payroll and accounts payable,” Ihly said. “We host approximately 60 trainings per year at ESD 123. Our audience are users from area school districts, principals, assistant principals, counselors, secretaries, registrars, special education employees, payroll officers (and) accounts payable clerks.”