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Decision on future of Southeast High to come June 24, officials say

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, April 8, 2013, at 9:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

Wichita school board members plan to decide the future of Southeast High School – whether to expand and renovate the current school or build a new one at 127th Street East and Pawnee – on June 24.

Until then, district leaders plan to gather input from students, parents, Realtors, staff members and taxpayers through a series of public meetings, surveys and more.

“In the end, the decision is still going to be difficult,” Superintendent John Allison told board members Monday.

Board members took action on 11 unfinished bond projects Monday. They voted 6-1 to drop five projects altogether; move forward with bond work at Coleman, Hamilton and Woodland; and keep three projects on hold.

Board member Lanora Nolan voted against the measure after raising concerns that Payne Elementary – one of five schools on the “discontinue” list – still needed improvements. She suggested moving Payne, 1601 S. Edwards, to the on-hold list instead of dropping its bond work altogether.

“There are still needs at this school,” including staff support rooms and a secure entryway, Nolan said. “There’s a real concern there.”

Allison said Payne was slated to get four new classrooms geared toward class-size reduction, an element of the bond issue officials say the district can no longer afford because of reductions in state base per-pupil funding.

After the meeting, Nolan said she had heard from school officials and others who hoped Payne, near Harry and Meridian, could get some bond work.

“When we go out for a bond issue and we ask the community to be a part of that and support it, but then we make decisions about a school without, at the very least, going to the administrators and the staff, I have a concern about that,” Nolan said.

“I don’t have any more information tonight than I had before. … I don’t know what the process was. That’s just frustrating.”

In addition to Payne, bond projects dropped on Monday were: Chisholm Life Skills Center, Greiffenstein/Wells Special Education Center, Levy Special Education Center and Metro-Meridian Alternative High School.

Three projects – Little Early Childhood Center, Sowers Alternative High School and a $10 million technical education magnet program – remain on hold.

That leaves four to be discussed in coming weeks and months: Caldwell Elementary, Robinson Middle School, Southeast High and the proposed new southeast quadrant high school.

“You have to look at future impact, not only five years down the road, but 25 years and more,” Allison said of the Southeast High decision.

He plans to present more information to board members at their next meeting April 22, including options for ways to use Southeast High if they opt to build a new, $54 million school, and estimated costs for property acquisition at the current Southeast.

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

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