DeSoto County school board members Monday approved the construction of a Ninth Grade Academy building for DeSoto Central High School, similar to one now functioning at Southaven High School.
Many schools have taken to having separate buildings for ninth graders, to help ease overcrowding and also help freshman students more easily make the transition from middle school into high school.
Southaven became the first DeSoto County Schools campus with a ninth grade academy building in 2014 as that school grew in numbers.
Supt. Cory Uselton, former principal at DeSoto Central before being elected as district superintendent, said increased growth around the DeSoto Central High School attendance center makes the academy idea a wise choice there, as well.
“The student enrollment at DeSoto Central High School has grown consistently for several years,” Uselton said. “There has also been a significant increase in residential developments in the DeSoto Central area. This classroom addition will relieve overcrowding in the building. It will also allow ninth graders to be able to adjust to high school while having most of their classes in one location.”
The construction of the Ninth Grade Academy, which is basically one building set aside for freshmen to have the vast majority of their classroom time, is expected to be done during the 2019-2020 school year, with a completion date in the fall of 2020.
The two-story building is tentatively planned to be built on the northern end of the campus and will connect to the current building, which is different from at Southaven, where the facility is separated from the main school building.
While this is a new building and new construction, additional teachers or administrative staff will not be required once the Ninth Grade Academy is completed, district officials said.
The 36,000-square-foot Southaven building cost $4.6 million, according to Allen and Hoshall PLLC, which provided planning, design, and construction administration services for the project.
Among other school districts that have Ninth Grade Academies are Bartlett, Tenn., Meridian and Canton in Mississippi.
The DeSoto Central building becomes one of several construction projects planned or in progress in the county, including Hernando and Lewisburg elementary schools, Lewisburg Primary School, and Oak Grove Central Elementary School.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.