Durham Public Schools may move the School of the Arts downtown


A Durham man accused of unauthorized entry into and surprise students in a Durham School of the Arts bathroom on October 28 has been arrested and jailed on million dollar bail.

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Durham School of the Arts, located in Bull City’s oldest high school building, could move to a new campus in North Durham.

DSA opened in 1995 in the former Durham High School, which was built in 1906 on North Duke and Gregson streets near the city center.

County Durham donated $ 4.1 million to Duke University for 58 acres on Duke Homestead Road in 2011. The site is near the Duke Homestead State Historic Site, north of the Interstate 85. When approved, the site was intended to relieve overcrowding in Riverside and Jordan High Schools. , The News & Observer previously reported.

If the Durham Public Schools Board of Education decides to move DSA there, a new school campus could be built by August 2025.

“We worked with staff from DPS, local architecture and traffic planning firms to decide whether the [existing] campus best supports the mission and vision of the 21st Century School of the Arts on a 90-year-old campus that had already experienced 115 years of conversions and changes in use, ”said Steve Hess of NEMA, a company project management.

“Since then maintenance has been postponed and has had several issues with the facilities,” he told the school board last month.

The eight DSA buildings span three blocks. Currently, 1,835 students across County Durham are enrolled in Grades 6 through 12.

DSA is also a magnetic school, which means students register through a lottery system that receives 2,000 applications per year.

The challenges of the building

According to Hess, the current school carpool is fueling traffic from Gregson Street to West Chapel Hill Street. The North Carolina Department of Transportation requires on-site carpool stack management.

“I’ve waited three light cycles to confirm this, and there are several layers of informal ridesharing where kids walk through extremely busy streets to get to parents’ parked cars,” Hess said.

The campus also has 68 entry points and 69 stairs and ramps. Multiple building levels and exterior entrances recently caused security concerns after a man entered the school and encountered several children in a bathroom.

The school also presents challenges for the size of classrooms, natural lighting through windows and storm water runoff.

“The existing campus does not match the contemporary needs of the school,” Hess said. “This site has competing interests between open spaces for children and activities, carpooling, storm water storage and best safety practices.”

New DSA construction criteria

After Hess and his team looked at the construction costs, schedule, and risks, they presented four options:

Renovate the existing DSA campus in four phases ($ 130 million)

Update Old Northern for a ‘swing’ space, while a one-phase renovation takes place on the unoccupied campus ($ 116 million)

Rent and build a ‘swing’ commercial space, while a one-phase renovation takes place on the unoccupied campus ($ 150 million)

Build a new campus at Duke Homestead and stay on the current DSA campus during construction ($ 120 million)

“Duke Homestead is the optimal solution for planning,” said Hess. “It would be the fastest to complete, presents the lowest risk of delaying zoning and traffic requirements and the greatest certainty without unforeseen events.” conditions that would occur during a renovation.

The Durham school board did not discuss the recommendations and did not set a date for making its decision.

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This story was originally published 1 December 2021 7:53 a.m.

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