by Emma Daniel
December 14, 2022
The Decatur City Board of Education on Tuesday authorized soliciting bids to build a centralized pre-K facility on the campus of West Decatur Elementary that would replace pre-K programs at elementary schools throughout the city.
The board also received an update on construction of the Career Academies of Decatur building, which remains on target to be complete before the next school year.
The new pre-kindergarten facility would be on Memorial Drive Southwest, between West Decatur Elementary and the adjacent baseball field. The board unanimously approved Lathan Architects to proceed with bidding out the project. Superintendent Michael Douglas had no estimate on the construction cost.
“Putting all our pre-Ks in one location frees up room in all our elementary schools,” Douglas said. “This will be tremendous for our district.” Decatur City Schools has 270 students in the pre-K program this year with 70 students on a waiting list. It had 244 pre-K students last year. “It’s to make sure all kids are getting a really good start so we don’t start kindergarten behind. It addresses our biggest instructional need,” Douglas said.
To attend classes in Decatur's pre-K program, students must be 4 years old. Students are in class from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. The facility is planned to be colorful, and the layout will feature pods with classrooms and restrooms, with multi-needs classrooms and a kitchen on one side of the building.
Douglas has previously said an ideal size for the center would be 22,000 square feet with 25 classrooms, including rooms for special needs students. Currently, there are a total of 18 pre-K classrooms located in Decatur's 12 elementary schools, including three special needs rooms.
The board on Tuesday agreed a new pre-K center would benefit the community.
“I’ve heard good feedback from the community about needing pre-K,” board member Dwight Jett said.
He said the pre-K center would be “a positive” for DCS.
“I see no negatives to it at all,” said board member Peggy Baggett.