DRS to open new school in 2007

FAMU Developmental Research School will soon move to a new building. Although the exact dates are undetermined, DRS will be relocating with updated technology and equipment to better serve its students.

Some current problems in the school endanger the safety of the students who attend.

“When it’s hot, the school’s air conditioning fails,” said Marvin Henderson, the director of the school.

“And when it’s cold, the boiler fails frequently, which makes it hard to keep students safe and healthy. All of these problems will be addressed in the new building,” Henderson said.

Steps were taken to get the new building four years ago, Henderson said.

James Corbin, the former chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees, secured the move after the legislature approved it, and funding was received.

FAMU DRS, a K-12 school established in 1887, has a long legacy with the University and a new DRS building has been a goal of FAMU for years.

The new location has been on the University’s master plan for five to 10 years.

Site work begins early 2006.

“The target date for completion is the fall of 2007. The school is presently located at 1212 Gamble St. on the northern side of campus, and will be on the southern border of campus on Orange Avenue and Wahnish Way after relocating,” Henderson said.

Sam Houston, director of facilities planning, is in charge of the DRS project.

Houston said the school currently holds a little over 400 students, but the new building will hold 800.

The building will double in size after completion. The school presently covers 50,000 sq. feet.

Rhodes and Brito Architects are scheduled to work on the project.

“The architects for the project are both FAMU graduates,” said Houston. “They also worked on the law school down in Orlando.”

Once the school relocates, the DRS administrators plan to raise the level of academic achievement and expose students to things the old building could not accommodate.

Secondary Principal, Rose Campbell, expressed school officials’ desire for the school to earn a blue ribbon and be better prepared for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

Two Leon County schools out of 13 schools in Florida have received the blue ribbon, Campbell said.

Blue ribbons are given to schools that meet the criteria set by the National Education Department. Ribbons are given over a period of time. The minimum amount of time is three years.

The new school will also separate the different grade levels.

“Elementary and middle is completely separate, but right now there is only some separation between the middle and high school levels,” Campbell said.

Along with accommodating the academic side of the school, the athletic aspects of the school will also be addressed.

“There will be facilities to accommodate different sports,” Houston said. “And with the new location, there is also room to add on,” Houston said.

The new athletic facilities include a gymnasium and locker rooms. Other additions include track, football, softball and baseball fields.

The school will also be getting a new auditorium, Houston said.

Henderson said the move should greatly benefit the school.

“New facilities will serve to put us on better footing with other better equipped schools,” Henderson said.

For more information on the DRS project contact Sam Houston at 599-3197. Marvin Henderson and Rose Campbell can be reached by calling FAMU DRS at 599-3325.

Contact Darian Magee at darianmagee@hotmail.com