Key Considerations for School Improvement

Key Considerations for School Improvement

Building safe, healthy and positive schools can be an overwhelming, never-ending project, with seemingly more details than you can keep track of. To make life a little easier, I’ve made a checklist that might help. The list touches on most of the key considerations that are worth at least a passing thought. For each item consider:

Have we addressed this adequately?
Would it be helpful if we did?

If you’ve got it covered, or it doesn’t seem worth attending to, move on. But for any items that present opportunities for improvement I’d suggest prioritizing them, then divvying up responsibility for pursuing them further. And of course, if you’re puzzled or would like clarification, send me an email.
Best of luck!



1. Phones, radios, pendants, crisis alarms, lockdown ability.
2. Visibility – lights, windows, lighting, landscaping, obstructions,open site lines (pictured at top of post: Brussels International School design, courtesy of Fielding Nair International Architects).
3. Crisis management plan, practice, flip chart.
4. Friendly adult presence.
5. Tip line/ suggestion box/ easy conduits for communication.
6. Mass notification emails/ robocalls / website/ media.
7. Entry point intercoms w/cameras.
8. Surveillance cameras throughout.
9. Surveillance cameras w/2-way audio.
10. SRO’s/ police in schools.
11. Wearable cameras/recording.
12. Wearable cameras/ live streaming.
13. 911/police live access to video/audio (; )
14. RFID/web or cell technology based tracking for objects or people. (Pictured: device)?????????????????
15. Digital evidence data mgt. ( )


16. Key control & alternatives. (conventional versus electronic. Pictured: cyberlock).cyberlock
17. Fencing/ border definition/ signage.
18. Visitor check in /honor system.
19. Visitor check in / screening and control.
20. Working HVAC system – no need to leave windows/doors open.
21. Limited entry points/ emergency egress.
22. Easy lock downs / default lock downs.
23. Automated lock downs/ panic button/ all entry points.
24. Casual screening (territoriality).
25. Formal screening (checking ID).
26. Electronic screening (wands/portals/back-ground checks/data bases).
27. Bullet resistant glass, doors or walls.
28. Segmented lock downs/ customizable ( )
29. ADA.
30. Signage – adequate, clear, languages, digital options.


31. Food quality (non-toxic, nutritional. Pictured: Seven Oaks Middle School, Oregon.)gardensevenoaksMS
32. Water (lead-free, potable, sanitary, accessible.)
33. Air (pollutants filtered, working HVAC system; once through.)
34. Toxics (cleaning products, off-gassing, pesticides, chemistry lab.)
35. Noise (internal and external/reduce or mitigate.)
36. Traffic (crossings, supervision.)
37. Physical health (exercise, movement.)
38. Manmade hazards (gas leaks, exposed wires, fire,, trip & fall.)
39. Macro-awareness (wilderness, scouting, pollution, caretaking.)
40. School garden.
41. Natural hazards (poison ivy, drowning, falling, getting lost, dehydration.)
42. HVAC system, etc. as learning tool.
43. Mental health, service access.
44. Medical health, service access.
45. Food access, free breakfast, take home food.


46. Welcoming physical design.
47. Functional physical design, scheduling and use of space.
48. Strength based philosophy–40 Essential Assets ( )/ multiple intelligences.
49. PBIS basics – ( ).
50. Comprehensive learning support ( )
51. Individual Functional Assessments.
52. Trauma-informed interventions.
53. Restorative justice.
54. Behavioral skill-building curriculum –2nd Step, Interactive storytelling, etc. (Pictured: the author, storytelling.) web6
55. Professional Learning Community — staff working together
56. Effective, inspiring academics – Shyamalan’s 5 keys:
• No roadblock teachers
• Right balance of leadership
• Feedback
• Smaller schools
• More time in school
57. Student to student connectivity / Adult to student connectivity.
58. School to community & family connectivity (social networking, conventional media, flyers, bulletin boards, etc.)
59. Tracking misbehavior – when/where.
60. Inclusivity – Special needs, ADA, language, cultural, etc.

Tod Schneider
Written by Tod Schneider

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