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Wichita school board will soon discuss bond projects

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, at 12:15 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

Wichita school leaders were scheduled to revisit their bond issue to-do list Monday night, but the impending winter storm has forced them to postpone the board meeting.

When board members do reconvene – a date hasn’t been set – it will hear a bond budget update from the superintendent.

It’s unclear whether they will discuss specifics about a proposed new high school or plans for Southeast High.

Superintendent John Allison’s presentation to the school board will “provide an update on the status of the bond budget … and then review the bond plan expectations for each of the projects remaining on ‘pause and study,’ ” district spokeswoman Wendy Johnson wrote in an e-mail.

“The board’s questions following that presentation will determine how we move forward with each of these … projects.”

More than two years ago, the Wichita board put dozens of projects from the $370 million bond issue on hold as it grappled with reductions in state per-pupil funding, losses of about $4.5 million a year in capital outlay money and losses of millions more in federal funds for storm shelters.

Since then, 52 bond projects have been approved for construction or are in the planning stage.

Projects still on hold include a proposed $38 million high school in southeast Wichita, a $10 million technical education magnet program, a $12 million expansion and renovation at Southeast High School and projects at Coleman, Hamilton and Robinson middle schools.

Allison said last month that he would present options to the school board that could set the course for potentially closing or “repurposing” Southeast High, Lincoln and Edgemoor, in favor of building a new school on district land at 127th Street East and Pawnee.

Board members plan to discuss bond projects in more detail during a special informational meeting March 4 but likely won’t take action until after that.

Also on Monday, school board members were scheduled to consider the sale of the former Mueller Elementary School, 2821 E. 24th St. North.

Mark Cox, owner of Vintage Construction in Wichita, submitted the winning bid for the property at an auction Feb. 15, offering $56,000 for the school. Mueller was one of five Wichita public school buildings that were closed last year as part of cost-cutting measures and new attendance boundaries.

Cox, who said he plans to develop a housing project in the former school building, said he was told by the district’s real estate broker after the auction that his contract “would be accepted or rejected” by Tuesday.

“I’m kind of just ready and waiting,” Cox said last week. “I told them I would make myself available to the board if they wanted me to … present information to them.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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