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Save Southeast group: Don’t move high school, expand it

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, May 20, 2013, at 8:16 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at 8:50 p.m.

The leader of Save Southeast, a group of residents opposed to closing or relocating Wichita’s Southeast High School, said Monday that the group endorses a $23 million option to expand the school at its current site.

“It meets the stated objective of the school board, it displaces the fewest number of people and … it’s the most economical of all the proposals we’re looking at,” said Don Landis, spokesman for Save Southeast.

“We think that in 2013, in today’s economy, that just makes the most sense.”

The proposal – one of several the school board is considering as it weighs how to proceed with unfinished bond projects – calls for acquiring 22 tracts of land to the west of Southeast High and building a gymnasium, swimming pool, tennis courts, ballfields and parking areas.

Other options call for buying more land to add two practice fields or acquiring the Sunrise Park Apartments property south of the school, near Caldwell Elementary.

Landis has addressed the school board several times to urge members to keep Southeast High at its current location at Lincoln and Edgemoor. The Save Southeast group formed in early March.

School board members, faced with several unfinished bond issue projects and limited funds with which to operate a new high school, are considering whether to renovate Southeast, build a new high school or both.

Superintendent John Allison said building a high school large enough to accommodate Southeast’s current enrollment and projected growth would cost about $54 million. In the original bond plan approved by voters in 2008, the district proposed building an 800-student, Class 5A high school at 127th Street East and Pawnee.

The board intends to approve a plan June 24.

“Some board members are confusing a shiny new school with a quality education,” Landis said Monday. “It’s not all about bricks and mortar. Evidence has always pointed to the fact that kids do better with access to a good neighborhood school.”

He also urged people to attend a communitywide meeting Tuesday to share their thoughts and opinions. The meeting, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Southeast High, will feature an update on bond construction and small discussion groups to review the options.

Child care will be provided, and Spanish and Vietnamese translators will be available.

District officials also are collecting feedback online through a survey on the district’s website. The survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/southeastreview.

Tuesday’s meeting is the final special meeting on the topic of Southeast High. Members of the public also can address the board at any of its three regular meetings in June.

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

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