Shade Planning for Schools

21 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 3 P LANNING FOR S HADE Planning for shade requires the completion of a series of interrelated tasks. These include convening a planning team, conducting a site audit to determine whether the existing level of shade is adequate, determining the most appropriate strategies if more shade is required; and developing a plan to increase the amount of shade accessible to students, teachers, staff, and visitors. The process can be lengthy, taking as long as 1 year. This chapter briefly describes each step. In chapter 6, “How to Conduct a Shade Audit,” the reader will find more detailed information on the steps for shade planning. The Shade Planning Team It is important for any school undertaking a shade planning project to first identify the stakeholder groups that may have an interest in, or be affected by, the resulting plan. Representatives of these groups should be included on the planning team. For most schools, the stakeholder list would include school administrators, the school nurse, coaches, teachers, students, parents, groups that use the school grounds after hours, and neighbors living adjacent to the school. In addition to stakeholder representatives, the planning team may need to call on professions with expertise in horticulture, landscaping, and architecture. Although it may not be necessary to include such individuals on the planning team, taking the time to identify and recruit them during the earliest stages of the planning process will keep the project moving when their expertise is required. The process will be well served if the goals of the team, the roles and responsibilities of its members, and a method for decision making are determined at the outset. In the course of developing and proposing a shade plan, many decisions will need to be made. One method for decision making that lends itself to a participatory process is decision by consensus. The Shade Audit Once a planning team has been assembled and its roles, goals, and procedures determined, the group’s first major task will be to conduct a shade audit. The audit will help the planning team determine how much shade is currently accessible on the school grounds and if more is needed. The audit consists of a series of user interviews, behavioral observations, and environmental observations. All of the information collected through the audit will be used by the planning group to develop their recommendations. Interviews Although members of the planning team may be very familiar with their school, their expertise may not be comprehensive. Any shade planning endeavor should begin by interviewing several members of each of the identified stakeholder groups. In those interviews, the planning team can collect important background information regarding: • When and where outdoor activities occur. • Which areas of the school grounds are off-limits. • Any long-term plans for the school grounds, including new construction. • Opinions regarding the adequacy of existing shade. • Expectations regarding the plans for additional shade. Chapter 6, “How to Conduct a Shade Audit,” contains sample interview questions for school principals, teachers, and students. Planning teams will need to tailor interview questions to issues and concerns specific to their school.