School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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The base plan

You can obtain a base plan of your school site from the school board. The base site plan will show the property boundaries and buildings. Some plans include the location of play equipment, benches, driveways, garbage receptacles, water catchment basins, etc. It is essential to thoroughly check the accuracy of the base plan because physical changes to the site may have occurred since the last time the plan was updated. Even when the plan has been recently revised, errors are sometimes found. You should delete from your working base plan items that no longer exist: for example, trees, benches, play structures, etc., that have been removed since the previous update and any new additions should be marked on the plan.

Checking the base plan

A base plan should show:

  • an outline of all buildings
  • all the property boundary lines including formal entrances and exits to the site
  • all internal edges - for example, where sports field meets garden, garden meets footpath, parking lot meets buildings, and where play structure spaces meet grassed areas
  • the location of trees, shrubbery, play structures, bike racks, seating, storage sheds, etc.
  • the North-South orientation

Adding to the base plan

You may want to add to your plan:

  • the main exits and entrances for the building
  • the location of classroom and office windows
  • the location of classrooms, gymnasium, etc. within the school
  • the designated fire lanes around the building

If your school grounds are adjacent to a river, the fifty-year flood plain should be indicated on the plan. Contact your local Conservation Authority or Ministry of Natural Resources for regulations on developing areas of the grounds that lie within the flood plain.

Checking the scale

It is very important to check the scale on your plan as this will prove crucial when you look in more detail at the site or when you consider the location and size of any future developments.

If a scale is marked (e.g., 1:500, 1;1250, etc.), you can check it with a tape measure and a scale ruler.

Choose a building on the plan with one straight side that you can easily measure. Go outside and measure the length of this side.

On your scale ruler, find the scale which corresponds to the number scale (e.g., 1:500, 1:1250, etc.) marked on your plan. Using this scale measure on your plan, check the length of the side of the building you have measured.

The side of the building should measure approximately the same as shown on the plan. Note that there may be a small margin of error as both paper and tape measures can stretch. If the two measurements differ substantially, you will need to make a scale for your plan.

Use your scale ruler at the appropriate scale to draw a linear scale on your plan. Mark it off in feet or metre intervals.

Creating a scale

If there is no scale marked on your plan, you will need to make one. You can make a scale with a tape measure and a ruler. A scale ruler may also be useful.

Choose a building on the plan with one straight side that you can easily measure. Go outside and measure the length of this side.

Measure on your site plan the length of the side of the building which you have just measured. In one corner of your plan, draw a line of the same length.

You know from your measurement of the outside of the building the length this line represents. Mark it off in convenient intervals. This is your linear scale. You may find that this corresponds to one of the scales on a scale ruler, in which case you can add a number scale (e.g., 1:500, 1:1250, etc.) to your base plan as well.

Reproducing your plan

Once you have an accurate base plan to work with, make sure you keep one clean original for future reference and reproduction. It is useful to have a base plan on paper with several acetate overlays upon which to draw the different aspects of your project.

Remember that while using a photocopier to enlarge scale plans or sections of your plans will not result in an accurate to-scale plan, they will be close enough for most purposes.

Making enlargements

It is useful to enlarge parts of the base plan for working on the finer details of projects. It is useful to leave margins around the enlargements for adding working notes and comments.

Transferring Data

Using survey results

The information your school has gathered from the people and site surveys is used to redesign your grounds. You will have most of the results of the site surveys in written form and they must be transferred onto a site plan drawn to scale.

Drafting the plan

You do not need to pay for the services of a professional draftsperson. School boards generally accept schools' hand-drawn plans provided that they are drawn to scale and show that all aspects of the site have been considered, including the new CSA standards for play equipment. After completing your preliminary plan, you may wish to approach a planner or landscape designer to ask them to check your plan or to assist with drafting a final plan to present to the school board for approval.

Transferring information onto overlays

You can transfer information on different aspects of the grounds directly from the surveys onto acetate overlays to be used with the base plan. For example, you can make a separate acetate overlay for recording information on each of the following:

  • the location and depth of utilities infrastructure and the area around each installation that must be kept accessible for repair and maintenance work
  • areas where snow is piled in Winter
  • the major access routes and turning space allowances for grounds maintenance, emergency, delivery and garbage collection vehicles
  • the routes used by people on foot to enter and exit the grounds and buildings, and routes used between all doorways of the building and gateways or other points of access to the grounds, play spaces, sports fields, bike racks, dumpsters, storage sheds, portable classrooms, seating, etc.
  • the location and brief description of any problems; for example, wet areas, steep slopes, graffiti, diseased trees, places where litter collects, windy places, signs of soil erosion, and damaged fences, signs, etc.
  • areas of the grounds that are currently used for curriculum activities
  • negative and positive comments about different parts of the grounds
  • the species of plants and animals found on the site both seasonally and year round
  • the areas of shade that children can use

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