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Construction begins on $87 million K-8 school in southwest Little Rock

Daniel Breen
Little Rock School District officials and relatives of Dr. Marian G. Lacey break ground on a new K-8 school named in her honor in southwest Little Rock.

The Little Rock School District’s newest facility is officially under construction. Crews broke ground on the Dr. Marian G. Lacey K-8 Academy Wednesday on the site of the former John L. McClellan High School in southwest Little Rock.

Among the officials present at the groundbreaking ceremony was Mayor Frank Scott Jr, who attended Horace Mann Middle School while Lacey was the principal.

“This is a great day because she embodied hope for our city, for the students that she touched with her infectious smile, and ensured that we all had correct subject-verb agreement,” Scott said.

Lacey died in 2017 after serving as a teacher and administrator in the Little Rock School District for over 30 years. Project manager Chris East with Cromwell Architects Engineers says the building will be 238,000 square feet and can accommodate over 1,400 students.

“There’s 64 academic classrooms, six project labs, eight fine arts classrooms, four self-contained classrooms, a media center, four makerspaces, career education counseling, cafetorium, gymnasium and the first tornado shelter within the school district,” East said.

East said parts of the facility can also be used for community events after normal school hours. The school is designed to replace the existing Baseline and Meadowcliff elementary schools as well as Cloverdale Middle School, and serve as a feeder to the new Little Rock Southwest High School.

Darian Smith, director of elementary education at the Little Rock School District, says community input played a big role in the new school.

“They voted for the school colors, which will be red, white and blue, the school mascot, the crimson lion, and the name, with more than 3,100 votes coming in in favor of honoring Dr. Marian G. Lacey, only the second female with the distinction of having a Little Rock School District building bearing her name,” Smith said.

Funding for the project will come from a millage extension passed by Little Rock voters last November. Construction is expected to last through late 2023.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.