The Landscape of Excellence By Leslie King, Director of Communications
projects and the use of land acquisitions to renovate the Middle School campus and redesign or rebuild the Upper School science building.” In April 2016, after months of research, reflection and dialogue between those committees, DA administration and the full board, the Board of Trustees approved DA
2030, which plans for enrollment and facilities growth over the next decade. The board also approved a construction and financing plan that calls for renovating or replacing the Upper School’s two main classroom buildings — the current science/physics buildings and the classroom building known as “the doubledecker” — with a campus-wide renovation of the Middle School to follow, maintaining DA’s reputation as the top independent school in the region. The Optimal School Size Task Force recommendations target the Upper School as the most logical division for the largest increase in enrollment — growing incrementally by about 35 students per grade to an Upper School of about 560 students by 2030. Upper School Director and Associate Head of School Lee Hark served on the task force, and points to several important philosophical drivers behind the decision to grow the Upper School first. “We have a moral imperative to open up the school to as many deserving families as we can,” Hark said. “To me, it’s about sharing what I think is the best educational option by far in a wide geographical area with missionappropriate families and kids who want to take part in it.” The admissions pressure in the Upper School is intense, and has become even more so in the last three to five years. Ninth grade is a built-in entry point at DA, but beyond that, openings for new students are created based solely on attrition. For the 2015-2016 school year, school-wide attrition was only 2 percent. DA received more than 100 applications for fewer than 10 openings in ninth grade. “We’re turning away kids we’d really want to have in the school. It’s a good problem to have, but at the same time [by growing], continued on the next page
hen the Optimal School Size Task Force shared its recommendations with Durham Academy’s Board of Trustees in November, a team of representatives from the board’s development, finance, and buildings and grounds committees set out to “develop a comprehensive construction, fundraising and financing plan to support … key facilities
LEFT: The Upper School would be the school division with the largest increase in enrollment, growing incrementally to about 560 students by 2030.
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