Innovation, cutting-edge on horizon for DCSD middle and elementary schools

Two DeKalb County School District (DCSD) schools are on their way to state-of-the-art upgrades, cutting-edge technology and innovative learning spaces following groundbreaking ceremonies the week of Dec. 10.

DCSD Superintendent/CEO R. Stephen Green joined district officials, Board of Education members and community leaders in breaking ground on new facilities for McNair Middle School in Decatur and Austin Elementary School in Dunwoody.

“These are days to celebrate,” Green said. “This does not happen in isolation—it happens in collaboration and partnerships. It’s construction officials, advisory committees, design and construction staff, students, teachers and the citizens of DeKalb County who made this possible with tax dollars by voting for E-SPLOST. We thank you all for coming together and build together. We want to continue to aspire, inspire and have our students continue to achieve.”

McNair Middle School’s future 170,000 square foot campus will include such amenities as a collaborative “maker space,” flexible furniture and an artificial turf field. The campus will also include amphitheater-style seating, an outdoor science courtyard and dry-erase wall coverings in classrooms.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Principal Ronald Mitchell. “When this school was built, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and there were only 48 states. She has served us well. Since then, we’ve since earned seven football championships and 15 track championships. We appreciate all it has done, but now it’s time to move on.”

Assistant principal Karen Stancil said the new facility will enhance the lives and wellbeing of students and the community at large.

McNair Middle School’s new facility is expected to open March 2019.

The improved Austin Elementary campus will offer similar amenities, including flexible furniture, advanced technology, an outdoor courtyard and collaborative learning spaces.

The new facility will be situated on approximately 10 acres near Austin Elementary’s current building, which will enable teaching and learning to continue during construction. The DCSD Board of Education entered an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Dunwoody in 2016 to secure the site.

Region I superintendent Sherry Johnson said the raising of the dirt on Dec. 15 signifies the beginning of new learning opportunities for Austin Elementary children.

“This will give each child the exposure and access to experiences that will help them rise to their greatest potential,” Johnson said.

Mayor Denis Shortal said the positive difference between Austin Elementary and other schools is internal involvement. He thanked gathered parents, teachers, students and Principal Ann Culbreath for creating a positive learning environment.

“Let’s start building!” Shortal said.

The new, innovative campuses at McNair Middle and Austin Elementary will be made possible through funds gathered via E-SPLOST IV, which was approved by DeKalb County voters in 2011.

“It is always the board of education’s vision to provide a safe environment for our students as well as an academic climate that is conducive to learning,” said DCSD board of education chairman Melvin Johnson. “How can that happen? Through collaboration with stakeholders, parents and the entire community. To that end, I want to thank everyone for participating and passing E-SPLOST IV. You did it for our boys and girls.”

Dr. Green said the occasions were not just celebrations for the incoming facilities, but what happens inside the facilities: deep teaching and learning.