LEFT: When this year’s kindergartners graduate from high school in 2028, Durham Academy will likely have grown to more than 1,400 students.
makes DA so special are the people and our relationships with one another. How could we preserve the “feel” of our community? Would a bigger school mean that we wouldn’t really know our students? Could we meet the educational and developmental needs of our full pre-k to grade 12 population on a larger scale? Several conversations led the task force to endorse the following short and long-term enrollment models for growth. In the short-term, the Optimum School Size task force endorsed a slightly larger school for 2016-2017. With a few additional staff positions and sections, we are able to preserve (or even enhance) the core of the student experience. We will retain a low incremental growth. Before leaving Durham average student who will not win National student-teacher ratio and the relationships Academy in 1995, Headmaster Don North Merit recognition but who is just a great kid between those two by adding faculty and told the DA Board of Trustees that the and would add immeasurably to the life of slightly decreasing class size. school’s No. 1 challenge was enrollment. the school.” Considering the benefits that a larger “The second reason I think we —Don North, Headmaster, May 1995 should consider incremental growth has to In 1995, Durham Academy was feeling student body can bring to the community, our task force then went on to plan for long-term do with the collection of application and similar admission pressure to what we face admission issues. today. Beginning in October 1996, the Board growth. By the year 2030, the school could be as large as 1,440 students, with the majority First, we are not able to serve as fully of Trustees spent nearly a year and a half of the growth in the Upper School. In order to as we would like current families seeking discussing the issue of school size. In May make the 2030 model work, we must address admission for additional children. There are 1997, the board adopted the resolution that facilities needs in ways that keep the student a least a dozen qualified siblings on wait lists split DA’s Preschool, Lower School and experience intact by adding sections, not now. Middle School, which was then located on students, to existing classrooms. Second, I spoke earlier about the goal Academy Road, building a new Preschool/ The Optimum School Size Task Force of increasing diversity; the growing applicant Lower School on Ridge Road and renovating delivered its recommendations to the Board demand also generates pressure on this goal. the existing Middle School on Academy Third, we are just now beginning to Road. This resolution also stated, “Flexibility of Trustees in November 2015. The board see applicants of high school graduates of should prevail not only in the construction of approved the incremental growth plan in February. The next phase is for Durham Durham Academy, and this group will also facilities but in the attitude about enrollment increase applicant pressure. growth. A dynamic strategic planning process Academy to work on expanding and enhancing our facilities. After months of hard Finally, with limited spots and four should include the possibility of a larger work and discussion, we hope that the next groups receiving some consideration in school in the future.” the admissions process, we diminish our As were our predecessors, the Optimum generation of graduates can look back and wonder how the school ever managed with ability to admit students not connected with School Size Task Force members were also just 100 in a graduating class. the school whom I characterize as the high initially wary of significant growth. What DUR HAM ACADEMY
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Published on Jul 8, 2016