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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Board buys old Dillons location for North High

BY SUZANNE PEREZ TOBIAS
The Wichita Eagle

The Wichita school board on Monday unanimously approved a $2 million deal to purchase property at the corner of 13th and Waco to expand the North High School campus.

The property is the former site of a Dillons grocery store that closed in 2008.

"I do think this will do great things for North," said board member Lynn Rogers. "The additional parking alone will be tremendous, and I think what we could do with the building itself will be exciting."

There are no immediate plans for the property, but district officials are considering a proposal to renovate the building and use it for technical education programs.

Money for the purchase will come from the district's capital outlay fund, said Martin Libhart, the district's chief of operations.

The district has been interested in the land since it first became available, Libhart said. North High, which sits on 26 acres, is the district's smallest campus and is located in the densely populated Midtown neighborhood.

"For a high school the size of North High, typically by any standards they would recommend 50 to 60 acres," Libhart said.

He added that the $2 million price for the property is well below the initial asking price of $4.5 million.

"We've been working very hard with the current owners to arrive at a reasonable price for the property, which we're confident we've done," he said.

In other action Monday, board members approved a $10.4 million contract with Coonrod & Associates Construction Co. to build a new elementary school in south Wichita.

The new school, at 3030 S. Osage, will replace Lewis Open Magnet Elementary, which was built in 1957. When complete, it will house the open magnet program, which has about 240 students, in one wing, and would have space for up to 400 more students in other parts of the building.

The new building, designed by Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, features three classroom wings, a cafeteria, library, computer lab and multipurpose room, as well as specially designed group study areas that were requested by magnet program staff.

It is expected to open in the fall of 2012.

Said board member Jeff Davis: "I'm so excited to see that old Lewis building go bye-bye."

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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