Project File: Reducing school size

March 1, 2004
New Chiles Middle School, Seminole County (Fla.) Public Schools

The “school-within-a-school” concept is being introduced into the design of the new 180,000-square-foot Chiles Middle School, Seminole County (Fla.) Public Schools. The concept creates three independent grade-level schools of about 500 students each. The goals of the design are to provide a more flexible learning environment, decentralize the administration and media center, centralize the essential academic elements for each grade level, and enable more demonstrative teaching methods.

The prototype design will create smaller, more manageable communities by separating grade levels into distinct learning centers. Each “school” contains a grade-level administration/guidance suite; math, science, English, and history classrooms; exploratory labs; a student education suite; and a decentralized media center/technology suite.

Students will travel to core community facilities through the courtyard, which is at the center of the design. The central area provides a sense of place and a safe environment for students to walk to class. The courtyard also will have an outdoor amphitheater.

The benefits of the “school-within-a-school” approach are smaller learning communities, easy access to technology tools, and classes close to each other for every grade level.

The architect for this project is SchenkelShultz Architecture (Orlando, Fla.).

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