Detroit Public Schools break ground on two PreK to 8 schools

Detroit-Detroit Public Schools students, parents, faculty and officials, joined by civic and community groups, broke ground today on two new PreK to 8 schools, totaling $41 million, in the Brightmoor and Clark Park neighborhoods that will be constructed at the same time in 14 months.

The Brightmoor and Clark Park schools, which will serve as models for future schools, are the first two PreK to 8 buildings that will be newly constructed with $500.5 million of federal stimulus dollars resulting from the passing of the Proposal S Bond Referendum.

Construction at both schools will occur at the same time under the management of Detroit-headquartered Brinker Construction in a 50/50 joint venture with Lansing-based Christman Construction. It will take 14 months to build both schools.

With these sites, DPS has broken ground on three schools in eight months since voter approval of Proposal S, seven months since the sale of the bond, and six months after the initial selection of the program manager, Walbridge Joint Venture. Ground broke on Martin Luther King Jr., Senior High School last month. Three more schools have begun extensive renovations. All together, the six schools represent $116 million in contracts awarded so far in the $500.5 million, three-year DPS School Construction Program.

“These groundbreakings exemplify our commitment to build schools that support 21st century learning while also bringing needed savings to the district’s operational expenses, including consolidating five outdated structures into two state-of-the-art facilities for our students,” said Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb.

“In the case of the new $20.5 million PreK to 8 school in the Brightmoor neighborhood, which is an area slated for growth and redevelopment, we will consolidate and replace three older buildings to construct a new two-story facility that will combine preschool students through grade 8 under one roof,” Bobb said. “In the Clark Park area, which is a hub of activity and growth in the city, we will tear down the aged Earhart Middle School and outdoor portable classrooms to build a new $20.5 million PreK to 8 school. Students from the century-old Maybury Elementary School, also will move to the new school, placing them in a new facility suited to today’s learning needs.”

Once construction is complete in August 2011, the new PreK to 8 buildings will be LEED silver certified facilities that will offer large, bright classrooms, separate wings for elementary and middle school students, and multi-use common areas for both. The current industry standard is silver for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a building design criteria and certification process established by the United States Green Building Council.

The new $20.5 million Gompers PreK to 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.

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 PreK to 8 school to be located on Scotten Avenue overlooking Clark Park in southwest Detroit. Maybury Elementary School, built in 1909, also located near Clark Park, will relocate to the new facility.

Both schools will have a cafeteria, central administration office and multi-purpose room that will separate the PreK to 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 light. 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.

Both schools are scheduled to open August 2011.

Renderings of the future schools can be downloaded at www.dpsschoolconstruction.org.

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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