With full support from the Board of Directors, Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) has submitted a formal proposal in support of a Downtown elementary school to the Dallas Independent School District. After years of research on ever-changing demographics and demands Downtown, DDI identified education as one of the key areas of focus in the 360 Plan update, which was unanimously approved by the Dallas City Council earlier this month. In the proposal filed December 19th, DDI suggests bringing a Montessori Elementary School model to the urban core, which would uniquely utilize Downtown’s parks, museums, library and much more as an experiential learning campus. That recommendation results from research on what choice school model would have the most success Downtown, and is largely based on high demand and waiting lists for other Montessori programs within the District.
Downtown Dallas President and CEO Kourtny Garrett said, “Based on preliminary work by DDI’s Education Task Force from 2011-2013, plus over 18 months of community outreach through The 360 Plan update, it has become remarkably apparent that – simply — we need more great schools in Downtown,” said DDI President and CEO Kourtny Garrett. “This fact is particularly true when looking at the early childhood through elementary ages. Our resident base is maturing and surveys tell us people want to stay Downtown, but we need to provide them things, like schools, that make it a complete neighborhood in which to plant their roots.”
The Downtown Montessori School model is also unique in that it is proposed to also serve as a “commuter school,” open to both Downtown residents and employees. At around 135,000, Downtown is home to the largest workforce in North Texas. A recent survey conducted by DDI through some of the largest employers in the Downtown showed that more than two-thirds of workers with school-age children would be interested in enrolling their kids in a Dallas ISD elementary school Downtown. DDI is committed to using its members and connections to the community to provide numerous resources for the potential school, including exposure to the vast number of industries and professions in Downtown. The workforce enrollment is intended to complement what can be expected from the 11,000 residents within Downtown, and more than 50,000 in surrounding neighborhoods. DDI also expects to add 20,000 residents in the next 2-5 years. It is also important to DDI that the school be racially, economically and culturally diverse to ensure the organization’s vision of Downtown as an inclusive place is maintained.