Heading into the one-year mark since voters approved a $500.5 million bond issue for Detroit Public Schools by a 62 percent margin, DPS is launching $49.3 million in construction projects at three PreK to 8 schools, including two new schools and an extensive remodeling at another that includes a new dance studio, instrumental and choral rooms.
Since voters approved the Proposal S Bond Referendum 11 months ago, contracts to Detroit-based firms have been awarded for 16 of the 18 school projects.
Groundbreakings took place Oct. 14 for the three latest projects — Detroit School of Arts East – Duke Ellington at Beckham, Munger and Mackenzie PreK to 8 schools — which will be built by teams including Detroit-headquartered companies. When completed, the schools will provide an educational home for more than 2,500 students and will be a source of community pride and renewal for three city neighborhoods.
Construction has begun at other nine schools as part of the $500.5 million program, with one renovation project at John R. King PreK to 8 School completed over the summer. The remaining $210.54 million in capital improvement bonds have been sold, giving DPS the necessary funding to finance the rest of the projects through 2012.
“It’s unprecedented in the past two decades that, leading up to just the one-year mark after voters passed the bond referendum, that 100 percent of projects will have been contracted, in this case, totaling more than $400 million,” said Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager.
“This has quickly become Detroit’s academic and employment stimulus project.”
New facilities for the Munger and Mackenzie schools will be built from the ground up. Construction at both schools will start this fall and will be completed by 2012.
The $22.3 million Munger project, located at 5525 Martin Street, will include an elementary and middle school wing connected by a two-story “student arcade” that will function as a dining court, student center and school square. The school is being located at the site of the former Munger and Chadsey schools in a thriving section of Southwest Detroit. Bright, sustainable classrooms will line colorful corridors centered around an academic commons area and teacher work centers. The school is designed to accommodate between 850 and 1,100 students.
The $21.8 million Mackenzie project, located at 9275 Wyoming Ave., will include a large open media center serving the needs of the school’s middle and elementary students. The building design will focus on student safety and will be environmentally-responsible through the adherence to national standards set by CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The minimum goal is set at a Silver LEED Certification.
Renovations at Detroit School of Arts East – Duke Ellington at Beckham PreK to 8 School, 9860 Park Drive, totaling $5.2 million, will include an academic wing addition with eight classrooms and an arts addition with a dance studio, instrumental and choral rooms. It also will receive an upgraded security entrance.
Duke Ellington East students will relocate to the new Beckham facility once the two additions are complete in 2011. The Duke Ellington East at Beckham program serves as a feeder school for the Detroit School of Arts, and the new addition is expected to enhance the school’s artistic offerings.
“We are extremely excited about the joining of two of the greatest schools — Duke Ellington and William Beckham — along with the building of the two additions,” said Yolanda Herbert, principal of both schools. “The school, community, students and staff will be forever thankful.”
Detroit voters approved Proposal S last November which enabled the district to access $500.5 million for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the 6th largest allocation in the nation.
More than 3,900 direct and indirect jobs have been created under the capital improvement program, according to the State of Michigan employment formula.
The DPS School Construction Project includes a total of seven new schools and 11 renovations. The improvement program also includes district-wide technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with Proposal S dollars. To comply with federal guidelines, all bond dollars must be spent within three years and all 18 schools must be completed by September 2012.