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DCHS Installs $132,000 3-D Printer for use in U.S. Military partnership

The Dade County Board of Education announced that Dade County High School finally received on Nov. 16 the $132,000 3-D carbon fiber printer it needs to manufacture helicopter parts in its partnership with the U.S. Military.


The BOE has been working to provide DCHS with the printer since mid-June. Director of Career and Technology Innovation Shenea Hill said educators and students began their training to learn how to use the printer on Nov. 17.


“We’re excited about the possibilities,” DCHS Principal James Fahrney said. “Right now, we’re just on the ground floor.”


DHCS is not the only school in Dade County with a unique manufacturing partnership. Dade Middle School is part of the NASA HUNCH program and is the only school in the country that prints parts for the International Space Station. DMS has made parts for tape dispensers, camera shoes, which hold cameras in place and galley tables, which the astronauts use as dinner tables.


Hill said that the HUNCH program has enjoyed DMS’s work so much that they are working to designate Dade County Schools as the official manufacturer of NASA HUNCH parts.


“That would be awesome,” BOE Board Member Daniel Case said.


Hill also said that Stratus, which is the manufacturer of DMS’s 3-D printer, contacted her saying that their company has reached the attention of NASA thanks to their efforts. Because of this, Stratus has granted DMS unlimited access to printable materials for free.


“I’ve been wearing them out with material orders,” Hill said.


“This is awesome,” Daniel Case said. “There are so many aspects as to what is going on here.”


Hill said that despite the groundbreaking achievements of both DCHS and DMS there have been concerns that DCS is turning into a manufacturing company, potentially placing less emphasis on teaching the students. Hill made clear that this was far from the truth.


“It’s just another source for the kids to get their feet wet with a new life experience,” Hill said. “They’re getting to experience what it is really like in the workforce.”


BOE Chair Carolyn Bradford said that this opportunity will give students who may not have the opportunity later in life to do something so important and technical.


“I see this as an opportunity for the kids to add on to what they are doing and see into the future,” Bradford said.


Architect Ken Harless virtually attended the meeting via Zoom to show new options for the Davis Elementary School Rock Building. The board was shown three options last month and ultimately was not satisfied with any of them.


Harless presented an option 4A, 4B and 5. Option 4A sees the building pushed towards Davis School road to avoid digging into the underground rock. Upstairs will have 13,100 square feet with a 5,100 square foot basement underneath to be used as a storm shelter. This plan is $500,000 more expensive than the previous options. Option 4B does the same as 4A but also rotates the bathrooms to maximize the square footage.


“That’s a lot of dang money,” Case said. “I understand why that is a lot of money, but that is a lot of taxpayer dollars. We have to consider that.”


Option 5 makes the same changes as 4A and 4B but removes the basement entirely.


“Dade County is notoriously known for only looking down the road a couple of years instead of the next 10 to 20 years,” Case said in regards to debates over whether or not the basement was needed.


After some debate, the board decided it needs more time to consider the options presented to them, which will slow all planning and construction of the building.


“We want to take another month and take a look at the options that you’ve given us to decide which direction we want to go,” Bradford said.


“It’s a shame that we have to push it back another month,” Case said. “The fact of the matter is there’s a lot of information here to discuss and we don’t have the time tonight.”


DCS Technology Specialist Chris Greene urged the board to upgrade its district-wide phone system, adding that the system is 12 years old and the phone support will reach its end of life in 2022. To upgrade the system as a whole, another server would have to be set up, costing $1,000. However, Greene said that monthly billing after the upgrade would be $300 less per month.


“It’s had a really good run, lasting as long as it did,” Green said.


The proposal ultimately failed due to a lack of motion made by the board.


DCS Superintendent of Schools announced that Dade Elementary School Teacher Gina Knox was named Teacher of the Year.


The BOE presented a personnel report after it returned from executive session.


Davis Nurse Kathy Graham and Bus Driver and part-time Custodian Rodney Cartwright resigned from their positions. Cartwright was hired as an ELA and Math teacher for the remainder of the school year.


Loran Grasham was hired as an aftercare employee at Davis.


Melissa Nestell was hired as a DES cafeteria employee.


Ella Collins was hired as a cafeteria substitute for all DCS schools.


Emily Wheeler was hired as a nurse at Davis.


James Emmett and David Lyons were named co-assistant coaches of the DMS JV basketball team.


Susan Caul resigned as DMS Cheer Coach. Her position will be filled by Sarah Blevins.


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