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Northeast Times | September 17, 2021

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Irving to Break Ground on The Outdoor Learning Center

Irving to Break Ground on The Outdoor Learning Center

Students in Irving ISD will soon have an additional opportunity to take learning outside – exploring nature at The Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) in Irving ISD. The district has partnered with Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) and the City of Irving to design and construct The OLC.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 5, at the future site of The OLC, north of Irving ISD’s Jack E. Singley Academy at 4601 N. MacArthur Blvd.
“The project represents a true collaborative effort of the three entities,” says Irving ISD Superintendent Jose L. Parra, Ed.D. “DCCCD provides the land, the city provides the funding and the school district will oversee all construction and operations.”

The OLC will be built on a 25-acre tract of land located between the North Lake College campus and Singley Academy. The facility will be utilized by students of Irving ISD as well as North Lake College.

Students will have the opportunity to explore the animals and plants that inhabit the grasslands, woodlands and marsh areas found throughout the 25-acre site. There will also be a pond to explore aquatic organisms and trails with designated areas to study ecosystems, habitats and food chains.
“This is one of those projects that was in discussion for a while, and it’s exciting to be at the point where the center will actually become a reality,” says Christa Slejko, North Lake College president. “We are looking forward to the unique learning opportunities that the center will provide for both Irving ISD and North Lake. We are proud to be partners in this project.”

Currently Irving ISD transports fifth-grade students to Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) in order to help meet state-mandated science requirements. The construction of The OLC within the district will cut travel costs and minimize travel time, maximizing the time spent on learning and instruction. The facility will also be utilized for other environmental programs within the district.

The project will be funded through the use of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) project funds formed by the City of Irving in 1998 to spur economic development within the identified TIF zone.

“By supporting this beautiful outdoor learning lab, the city of Irving has helped create an educational gem in the center of a vast urban area,” says Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. “As fierce supporters of education, we know that offering this unique setting, while connecting our highly regarded Singley Academy with North Lake College, is a win for students and residents alike.”

The OLC will feature trails designed to explore the land, a water reclamation station and a museum-style learning facility. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with anticipated completion in spring of 2016 to coincide with Earth Day.

“This is a great example of Irving entities working together to develop and sustain a learning venue that will benefit the students and the community of Irving,” Parra says.