Members of the Sherman Independent School Board receive a vision of what the New Sherman High School will look like once it is fully furnished and ready for classes.
SISD received a report Monday night from Texas Furnishings, who have been contracted to assist in furnishing the new high school for its opening in January 2021. The report included recommendations on furniture to not only meet the district’s needs now, but for years to come.
“You are having to spend money on something that has to be good for 30 years, 40 years, and 50 years is the standard we have seen many times,” Texas Furnishings Vice President of Sales Rhonda Ellington. “We want to make sure that if you have to use this for 30 years, we are putting the right manufacturers in front of you.”
Tyson Bennett, SISD assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said the district currently has about $4 million budgeted for the furnishings for the new high school.
“One of the things were were emphatic about is don’t show us things you know we cannot afford,” he said. “Show us things that are nice in the areas we want to go all in on, but in area where it is still functional and looks nice.”
As part of the preparations, the district held visits with representatives from Texas Furnishings along with students and teachers. More than 100 surveys were collected as a part of the visits.
Representatives with the company presented artist renderings of what the classrooms might look like with the proposed furniture.
Among the pieces that were suggested for traditional classrooms were curved desks that were placed in groups together.
"This is a collaborative desk that can be broken out individually or as you see put into groups,“ Sales Rep Travis Taylor said. ”It is also unique in that it is a stacking desk that will allow you to free up space in the classroom to do whatever you want.”
A desk on the side of the classroom appeared to serve as the teacher’s space. Meanwhile a mobile pedestel at the front of the classroom would allow a teacher to move around and monitor the classroom without stepping away from notes or a computer.
Meanwhile, the library will include double-sided modular shelves along with a variety of seating options aimed at providing learning spaces for a variety of learning styles, representatives said.
“We are not looking at one-size-fits all and we have different tables at different heights. Different students are going to navigate and naturally gravitate to what they feel most comfortable at.”
Likewise, the proposed cafeteria layout included a variety of tabletop types, ranging from traditional row seating to round tables designed for groups of four to eight.
Like the classroom furniture, many of the tables are designed to be movable. However, some of the round tables are designed with a single top surface without cracks or joints that can gather crumps and dirt.
The cafeteria also featured booth-style seating with soft backs to allow visibility for instructors and administrators while still offering some level of privacy.
“If you think back to the cafeteria when you were in school, it was kind of institutional,” Ellington said. “Everyone lined up and sat shoulder to shoulder and probably didn’t get to talk as much as you would have liked as we were trying to keep the noise levels down.
Today cafeterias are places that don’t look like prison centers. They are places where students are encouraged to engage and talk and socialize.“
Ellington said the variety of seating styles allows the cafeteria to be versatile and be used for a variety of purposes beyond just cafeteria dining.
Allows for collaboration, meeting space for other purposes. The tables are also designed to be mobile. This includes tablestops that are a solid piece with no cracks that would collect crumbs and dirt.
Career and tech classrooms offered more variety in classroom furnishings. Some classrooms would be outfitted with a-frame, butcher block tables while others went with stainless steel furnishings.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.