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MacArthur Modernization Kicks Off With Old Community Space Discussion

The community engagement process for a new Douglas MacArthur Elementary School project has kicked off.

The new, more modern Douglas MacArthur Elementary School (1101 Janneys Lane) is scheduled to open in January 2023. Students will start using swing space in the former Patrick Henry Elementary School after the current, 1940s-era MacArthur Elementary is demolished in June 2020. The new project has a total budget of $56.6 million.

The manager of the project spoke at a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 29. One of the recurring topics from people in attendance was greater community use for the building, including “space inside for community use” and a suggestion that “the school needs to feel like a community asset.”

The commentary comes as the City Council and School Board have been engaged in a long-running discussion over how much space in school projects should be used for non-school purposes, like administrative offices or affordable housing. The discussions have grown more urgent over the years as the city begins running out of space to locate new projects.

A timeline at the Tuesday meeting showed the school’s concept design finishing up at the end of the month, with the rest of the design phase running from December 2019 to the end of 2020. Construction of the new project is scheduled to start in September 2020 and finish November 2022.

Some parents at the meeting expressed confusion that other school projects had been finished in one year, or slightly over, and wanted to know why construction for MacArthur was expected to take nearly two years. Staff explained that the extra time accounted for working through the city approval process with some time allotted for demolition at the start of the project.

Another community discussion, intended to help shape the ultimate design of the school, is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m.-noon at the MacArthur Elementary library.

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