Board Approves Downtown Dallas ISD Montessori Lease

As expected, the Dallas ISD board of trustees approved a lease that will bring a Montessori school to downtown Dallas, starting in the next school year. 

The new school would eventually serve grades pre-K through eighth, but at its initial opening this fall, it will be home to pre-k through second grade. The school would first open at the University of North Texas building at 1901 Main Street, but officials are looking for an eventual permanent space. The district will utilize the third and fourth floors of the building until 2024, when they expect to have a new facility ready.

At that point, enrollment will include pre-K through sixth grade.

The board’s approval of the lease agreement represents almost a decade of work that began when Downtown Dallas Inc. began advocating for a downtown elementary school, and then began working with the district to bring it to fruition.

“DDI has worked for almost eight years on this school, which is a new endeavor for Dallas – a truly urban neighborhood school blended with a customized Montessori curriculum that leverages Downtown assets like Main Street Garden for learning, preferential enrollment for Downtown residents and employees, and all with a thoughtful socioeconomic balance,” Kourtny Garrett, Downtown Dallas, Inc.’s president and CEO. said in a statement after the meeting.  “The entire Downtown residential and corporate community has embraced this initiative and we’re so proud of the outcome of this partnership we have forged with Dallas ISD.”

“It took a ton of time and effort and diligence and a relentless pursuit of results,” said trustee Miguel Solis during his district update prior to the vote. “That has been an idea that has been worked on for many years, and there were a ton of people that were involved in getting that done.”

Solis thanked DDI for “never giving up on Dallas ISD,” and thanked the administration for making sure the idea got off the ground.

DDI says its strategy, called The 360 Plan,  is for downtown to become a complete neighborhood, where residents can meet their economic, social, and personal needs conveniently.

“Recent data shows that the presence of young families in Downtown is growing, now including more than 400 children under the age of 13,” the group said. “Tonight, the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees took an unparalleled step towards creating a Downtown that meets the needs of those families that call it home with the approval of this elementary school.”

Dallas ISD Board President Justin Henry commented “Downtown’s elementary school is long overdue.  I have been committed to supporting this project since I joined the board in 2018 after hearing from so many constituents how great this need truly is,” said Dallas ISD board president Justin Henry. ” I am grateful to Downtown Dallas, Inc. for being such a great partner with Dallas ISD and an effective advocate for those downtown residents in this process.   DDI worked tirelessly alongside downtown residents for years to provide pro-bono assistance in the creation of this school.  They developed the initial proposal that included everything from the curriculum to the future PTA structure.”

DDI also was involved in the location search, will continue to assist with marketing, beautification, and maintenance, and made a $150,000 contribution to the school from their foundation.

 

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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