East Bakersfield will be getting a new elementary school within the next few years.

The Bakersfield City School District has announced that it will begin construction soon on its 44th campus, to be named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. The $40 million campus will be located at Belle Terrace and Citadel, next to Belle Terrace Park.

The district celebrated the start of construction with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday. Mayor Karen Goh and a few district officials spoke at the event, which was also attended by a group of Munsey Elementary students who participated in the groundbreaking.

“I want to thank the people in the community and our district who placed a trust in us back in 2016 by voting for our school bond, Measure N. That was a key part of building this school,” said Steve McClain, assistant superintendent of business services for BCSD. “We anticipate building more schools as our community around us continues to grow.”

McClain said the school, which will sit on a 23-acre property, is scheduled to open in fall 2020 and serve around 900 students. This will be the first school in the district to be built since Fletcher Elementary and Cato Middle opened in 2014.

The school will have a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, referred to as STEAM. The district said the campus will have state-of-the-art technology, science labs, learning spaces and more.

“All of our students will have opportunities to experience hands-on, projects-based learning with up-to-date 21st-century instructional materials,” said Superintendent Doc Ervin. “We’re excited about this. I think that this has been a long time coming. This is going to be something that (the community will) cherish for a long time to come.”

McClain said he’s glad that the district has plenty of land to work with for the construction of the school.

“We’re happy that we have lots of room out here. A lot of our older schools are smaller, so it’s nice to have room for the kids,” he said. “I think this is going to be an excellent campus. We really do want our students (to have) 21st-century learning skills that will prepare them for a successful future.”

Mayor Goh said that it is only through the collective effort of everyone in the district as well as the community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School will be successful.

“It takes all of us to create that environment where the child comes first,” she said. “How wonderful it is that we are united, not just as educators but as our community at large.”

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 661-395-7368. Follow him on Twitter: @JLuiz_TBC.

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