Robert E. Lee Early Childhood Center


Developing Opportunities for Student Success

Durant Public Schools is excited to announce the transition of Robert E. Lee Elementary to Robert E. Lee Early Childhood Center in the fall of 2017. Located at 824 W. Louisiana, the Early Childhood Center will house all sections of pre-kindergarten in the district. Washington Irving and Northwest Heights will house all kindergarten through third grade students.

The reorganization of the lower elementary grades will ensure early childhood students receive an individualized education, which has been proven to help children succeed in an increasingly competitive global society. It also serves to balance student enrollment and intervention services at all elementary schools.

Jan Chaffin will remain principal at the new Early Childhood Center, and stated, “I am looking forward to our building site providing a specialized education for our early childhood students. The teachers at the Early Childhood Center will use the first two days of school in the fall to schedule private appointments with parents and students in order for the transition to school to be the smoothest possible. This extra time will allow for parents to be updated on the drop-off/pick-up procedures, as well as allowing teachers to perform individualized assessments with students.”

Safety and a developmentally appropriate environment are priorities at the Early Childhood Center. Students will benefit from two indoor playground areas, as well as a covered outside playground. Halls will be filled with colorful murals, as well as the sounds of learning and laughter from the youngest students in the district.

“There are many factors in the decision to restructure our elementary schools to include an Early Childhood Center,” stated Superintendent Duane Merideth. “Primarily, it is an opportunity to advance the academic expectations in our Pre-Kindergarten program. We strive to provide a standardized, high-quality program across the district, and want to provide a true developmentally appropriate experience at one site by creating a vibrant Early Childhood Center.”

Durant Public Schools says this is the first phase of a plan to manage continued growth within the district. As enrollment increases, so does the district’s plan to best serve students of all ages.



Questions about the Transition

Why is restructuring happening?
The restructuring of schools is to better serve students in early childhood and those with special needs. The move is to be proactive in providing the best educational services, including early intervention, to all students. It is also the first phase to be implemented in the District’s vision to prepare for continued enrollment growth.


Will this move allow more PK students to be accepted into the program?
This move does allow for the potential increase of the number of PK students accepted into early childhood.  This past year, two PK classes (one at NWH and one at WI) had to be closed in order to provide additional classroom space for the growth of Kindergarten and 1st grade.  However, the growth of PK will be controlled in order to not exceed enrollment capacity in early elementary. 


Will there be any upgrades made to REL?
REL will receive upgrades to the existing facility, including the development of two new indoor playground areas and a covered outdoor playground. Teachers will also be involved in the design of hallway murals and a welcoming, developmentally appropriate environment for our early childhood students and staff.


Will you be decreasing staff from the schools?
Each year the number of staff is based on enrollment and programming needs. Making the change to an ECC would be no different.  There is no plan to decrease staff (certified or support) from any of the elementary sites.  However, there will be movement according to need. 


How will priority 2 students be handled?
Priority 2 student processes will not change.  REL’s current zone area will be evenly split, while WI & NWH will retain their current zones.  Any student who is currently attending WI or NWH will likely continue to attend that school as a priority student unless there is a tardy or absentee issue.  As PK students begin moving into each building after next school year, the zoning will once again be examined in order to keep class sizes balanced. 


How will families who have multiple children manage transportation to and from school?
The ECC and elementary schools will have staggered openings to accommodate varied drop-offs in the morning.  The ECC will have an early release time to allow pick-ups for PK students first, followed by later release times for older students. The District will continue to review procedures to provide transportation solutions that help families get children to school safely and in an efficient manner.


We like our neighborhood school.  It isn’t fair for other students to be able to attend their neighborhood school, while ours have to be moved to a different campus.
Many of our students in Durant do not attend their designated neighborhood school because they must attend another school due to enrollment needs or they prefer to attend another school in district as a second priority student.  Centralized enrollment directs students to the school with the space available.


I am a working parent.  I can’t leave work to come pick up my child early.  What am I supposed to do?
The district is examining options for childcare to be housed at the ECC for parents who are working until the dismissal time of the other elementary schools.  As the plan is developed, it will be shared with parents and staff.