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Southeast High building could house district offices, says Wichita superintendent

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, April 22, 2013, at 10:25 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at 8:50 p.m.

If the Wichita school board opts to build a new Southeast High School, the old building could house district offices and technical education programs, Superintendent John Allison said Monday.

Wichita Area Technical College officials have said they are “extremely interested” in moving some of their programs to the building at Lincoln and Edgemoor – and possibly starting new ones – Allison said.

“This isn’t just WATC as a tenant. It’s WATC as a partner,” he said.

Allison said the district also could consolidate many of its offices at Southeast, which would entail moving out of two downtown buildings: the Alvin E. Morris Administrative Center, 201 N. Water, which the district owns and has shopped to potential buyers; and the Joyce Focht Instructional Support Center, 412 S. Main, which it leases.

Allison presented the option during a lengthy presentation of costs and other issues related to whether the district should renovate Southeast High, build a new high school at 127th Street East and Pawnee, or both.

The board will decide the matter June 24.

Before that, district officials plan to hold a community meeting at Southeast High and offer tours of Southeast and the new Northeast Magnet High School in Bel Aire. That school, which opened last fall as part of the 2008 bond issue, is similar in design to the proposed new southeast quadrant high school.

Allison’s presentation included more details on several aspects of the bond issue projects, including costs for land acquisition, demolition, drainage, road construction, transportation and more.

Details were posted after the meeting on the district’s website, www.usd259.org/.

Depending which scenario board members consider, the cost of land, demolition and other expenses at the current Southeast High could total $8.7 million or more, Allison said.

The original bond plan calls for about $14 million in renovations and improvements to the 56-year-old school, including a new gym and outdoor athletic fields. The new school at 127th Street East and Pawnee is estimated to cost about $54 million.

Allison said transportation costs would go up if Southeast moves because all students attending the new school would qualify for bus rides until sidewalks could be constructed around the school.

Currently, 44 buses serve Southeast High, he said. About 51 buses would be needed to transport students to the new high school, he said, and another seven to transport students to Curtis Middle School who currently ride with Southeast students.

Allison said opening a new, 800-student high school in addition to renovating Southeast High, as proposed in the original bond plan, would cost the district an additional $9.7 million a year in operating expenses.

That would require cutting at least $9.2 million – the equivalent of 153 full-time positions – from other district high schools, he said.

“I think we have to realize that, again, that responsibility goes back to the Legislature,” said board president Lynn Rogers. “We had the funds. We had the plan in place, and we were going to do it.”

Allison said moving district offices to Southeast would require about $2 million in renovations to the school. Wichita Area Technical College could require some improvements as well, the cost of which would be negotiable, he said.

Board member Barb Fuller said she liked the idea of offices and technical college classes at Southeast, should the district decide to move the school.

“I’m not saying I’m for it, and I’m not saying I’m against it. But … I can see some impact that would very directly be a win for some of the area around Southeast High School,” she said.

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

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