By John Hodges-Copple
Today, Durham School of the Arts (DSA) is in a similar situation to that of George Watts in the 1990s; Durham Public Schools has announced plans to build a new campus for DSA three miles north of its current location.
There are many parallels between the history of George Watts and the current plans for DSA, most notably an initial lack of meaningful engagement with parents, staff and the community – later remedied by DPS in the case of George Watts; and no detailed and transparent comparison of the “move” option with an “improve” option that can address the clear deficiencies at the current location. These limitations are mostly not about academics; DSA performs better than any of the large, suburban schools, as just-released state data continues to show.
Future plans for the current campus are unclear — and also have not involved those who would be affected — and would seem to need to address many of the parking, access, utility, safety and security deficiencies that are being used as justification for closing and moving DSA.