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Wichita school board OKs scaled-down Horace Mann bond project

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, at 11:54 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, at 8:43 p.m.

Wichita school leaders on Monday voted to move forward with a bond project at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet School that will be scaled back from the original bond plan.

Without discussion, the Wichita school board voted unanimously to hire Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture to design the Horace Mann project, one of nearly 20 still on hold. About two years ago, board members voted to put 67 projects on hold as they grappled with budget cuts and redrew attendance boundaries.

Under the revised plan, the K-8 school at 1243 N. Market will not get a new gymnasium and locker rooms, said Ken Arnold of Schaefer Johnson, the district’s bond manager. Instead, the school will get a new science lab and music suite.

Horace Mann students would continue to use the current gymnasium, which is smaller than most middle-school gyms, for practice and physical education but would not host middle-school basketball or volleyball games, Arnold said.

“The primary reason for not doing a new gym is (that) Horace Mann is a K-8 school, with limited enrollment for middle school,” Arnold said.

Horace Mann has 607 students, including 173 in sixth through eighth grades.

The revised plan is expected to save about $1 million in bond costs, Arnold said. The original bond plan, approved by voters in 2008, called for $2.4 million in additions and improvements to Horace Mann, including a middle school gym, lockers, four new classrooms and a commons area.

The board also voted 6-1 Monday to approve a $1.3 million contract with Sauerwein Construction Co. for an addition and renovations to Marshall Middle School. That project calls for a new vocal music room and technology lab that will double as a storm shelter, renovations to student support offices and a secure entryway.

Board member Sheril Logan voted against the measure. She voiced concerns that the building’s auditorium could not be sealed off from the rest of the building during special events, which could allow groups renting the auditorium to have access to other parts of the building.

“If we could not have free rein in the whole building at night, that would be nice,” Logan said. After the vote, she said, “I just want our buildings to be as secure as possible.”

The Marshall project is expected to be complete in about a year.

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

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