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Expanding Southeast, building new high school would have 'significant impact,' superintendent says

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 10, 2013, at 9:17 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at 8:50 p.m.

Although some community members called it the best of both worlds, renovating Southeast High School and building a new, smaller high school would cause a “significant impact” across the district, Superintendent John Allison said Monday.

“You’d have to look at scaling back programs. … You’re talking about eliminating personnel,” eliminating some advanced-level courses, increasing class sizes, scaling back fine arts and athletic programs and more, Allison said.

“When you’re talking that size of cut, there would be few areas … that wouldn’t be impacted one way or the other.”

Scott Wituk of Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research shared some common themes from recent public discussions about Southeast High.

Overall, people said that renovating and expanding the school at its current location at Lincoln and Edgemoor would be cost-effective and would preserve the surrounding neighborhood, but they worried about the building’s age, Wituk said.

A new high school at 127th Street East and Pawnee would be expensive and farther away from where most Southeast students live, people said, but could boost school pride and be more efficient in the long run, he said.

Building both schools would “stay true to the bond issue promises,” Wituk said, but participants worried about ongoing operating costs.

Allison said the worry is understandable. Opening another high school would cost an additional $8 million to $10 million a year, he said.

Some board members on Monday expressed frustration about what they said were comments based on misinformation about the Southeast High issue.

Lanora Nolan said some people don’t want Southeast to move because they worry about a vacant building at Lincoln and Edgemoor.

That won’t happen, she said.

“Not at any point have we talked about closing the doors of that building,” she said. “In fact, we made a promise to the community … to place robust educational continuing-learning opportunities there.”

If the school board opts to build a new Southeast High, the old building likely would house district offices and technical education programs, Allison told board members in April.

Board member Sheril Logan called that option a “win-win” on Monday and asked for additional information about which programs would go where in Southeast High.

Allison said he would present more data at next week’s meeting, including how district offices and Wichita Area Technical College programs would fit into the footprint of the building at Lincoln and Edgemoor. He also plans to have more specific estimates of busing costs to a new Southeast High, he said.

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

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