Construction to start on first two new PreK-8 schools in $500.5 million capital improvement project

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542 or Jennifer Mrozowski at 313-873-8401

Detroit-Construction on the first two new PK-8 schools, totaling $41 million, will start this month in the Brightmoor and Clark Park neighborhoods that will serve as a model for future
PK-8 Detroit Public Schools, offering large, bright classrooms, separate wings for elementary and middle school students, and multi-use common areas for both. A combined contract for work on both schools to be completed by 2011 was awarded to a Detroit-headquartered firm that will net $19 million in savings for the district.

Both PK-8 schools will be LEED silver certified and built from the ground up in just over a year using bond dollars from the Proposal S Bond Referendum voters approved in November. Silver is the current industry standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a building design criteria and certification process established by the United States Green Building Council.

The contract for both schools was awarded to Detroit-headquartered Brinker Construction in a 50/50 joint venture with Lansing-based Christman Construction.

“These schools, which we are pleased are $19 million below budget, will help the district to consolidate space and save long-term operating and maintenance costs while replacing outdated structures with 21st century learning environments,” said Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb.

And as we promised during our Proposal S campaign, these projects are providing thousands of jobs to Detroit residents and work to Detroit companies, as evidenced by the fact that each of the first six projects include companies that are Detroit-headquartered.”

The PK-8 projects bring the total awards to six schools that together amount to $116 million in contracts awarded so far in the $500.5 million, three-year DPS Bond Construction Project. All the prime contractors are Detroit-headquartered construction firms. The six projects start seven months after voter approval of Proposal S, six months since the sale of the bonds, and five months after the initial selection of the program manager, Walbridge Joint Venture.

Since last month, $75 million in contracts have been awarded to Detroit-headquartered construction firms on the first four schools. Ground broke on Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School June 18.

The new $20.5 million PK-8 school in the Brightmoor neighborhood will be located at the present Harding Elementary School site on Burt Road on the city’s west side. The new school will consolidate and replace three older buildings-Harding, Vetal and Gompers elementary schools. The existing Harding Elementary School and an annex building on the campus will be demolished to allow for construction of the new LEED silver certified two-story facility that will combine preschool students through grade 8 under one roof.

A cafeteria, central administration office and multi-purpose room will separate the PK-5 and middle school wings. Classrooms designed for art and science programs will be located on the first floor of the middle school wing. The second story will house general classroom space and two common rooms with large windows for natural lighting. Students in preschool through second grade will be located on the first floor of the elementary wing with grades 3-5 on the second floor. A small gymnasium will also be built for the younger elementary students.

Construction on the school in Brightmoor will start this month and is scheduled to open August 2011.

The 45-year-old Earhart Middle School and outdoor portable classrooms will be torn down to make way for a new $20.5 million LEED silver certified PK-8 school to be located on Scotten Avenue overlooking Clark Park in southwest Detroit. Like the Brighmoor facility’s floor plan, the Clark Park neighborhood school will have separate elementary and middle school wings with shared common space for the cafeteria, administration office and multi-purpose rooms. The upstairs classrooms will also feature large windows to bring in natural light. Maybury Elementary School, built in 1909, also located on Clark Park, will also relocate to the new facility.

Construction on the new school next to Clark Park will start this month and is scheduled to open in August 2011.

Renderings of the future Brightmoor and Clark Park neighborhood schools can be downloaded at

Detroit voters approved the Proposal S Bond Referendum last November which enabled the district to access $500.5 million in federal dollars for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the 6th largest allocation in the nation.

The DPS School Construction Project will build a total of seven new schools from the ground up. Eleven more will receive extensive renovations or additions. All 18 schools are scheduled for completion by September 2012 to comply with federal guidelines.

The three-year improvement project also includes district-wide technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with the Proposal S dollars. Federal regulations stipulate the bond dollars must be spent within three years.

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