After boundary vote, ‘huge task in front of’ Wichita school board

03/06/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 9:06 PM

The day after a controversial school board vote to close schools and redraw attendance boundaries, Wichita school officials said the real work of preparing for next school year had begun.

“We have a huge task in front of us,” Superintendent John Allison said Tuesday.

Five new schools under construction as part of the 2008 bond issue, including a new building that will house Northeast Magnet High School, are scheduled to open this fall.

The current Northeast Magnet and four elementary schools – Bryant, Emerson, Lincoln and Mueller – will close for good at the end of this school year.

First thing Tuesday morning, just hours after the school board’s unanimous vote, district leaders met with teachers at schools slated to close.

It’s still unclear when and where staff will be reassigned – much depends on final enrollment numbers at new schools and elsewhere, Allison said – but the closings won’t translate to job losses.

The district also plans to contact families via e-mail, letters, phone calls and the district website to alert them of important upcoming dates and deadlines. For instance:

•  Choices Fair, an event where families can learn about magnet schools and other options, is 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Century II.
•  The deadline for magnet school applications is 4:45 p.m. on March 14.
•  And by April 6, students from Bryant, Emerson and other schools affected by closures or boundary changes must submit their “declaration of intent” to attend corresponding magnet programs. High school students who wish to remain at their current school also must declare that preference by April 6.

Also on Tuesday, the district announced principals for two of the five new schools.

Michele Ingenthron, principal at Lincoln Elementary, will lead Ortiz Elementary, a new elementary school at 33rd North and Arkansas.

Shawn Springer, principal at Price-Harris Communications Magnet Elementary, will head a new K-8 school near 143rd East and Pawnee.

Allison said both principals will finish the school year at their current schools while getting the new schools ready to open in August, including interviewing teachers and staff. They also will represent the new schools at the district’s Choices Fair on Thursday.

Ingenthron has been principal at Lincoln since 2010. She started her career with Wichita schools in 2001 as a fourth-grade teacher at Horace Mann. She also taught at Pleasant Valley Elementary and served as assistant principal at Mueller Elementary.

Springer started with the district in 1992 as a first- and second-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary. He taught at Dodge before being named assistant principal at Cloud Elementary. He also served as principal at McLean and Caldwell before becoming principal at Price-Harris in 2008.

The school board will name a committee to study naming options for the new K-8 school. The school’s colors, mascot, staff and other school-related decisions will be made in coming months, officials said.

District officials haven’t said for sure, but principals of three other schools set to open this fall could be the people currently leading programs that will move to those schools.

Wichita’s two open magnet elementaries, Lewis and Emerson, will merge at a new school near Seneca and 31st Street South. Students who live in the area and students with severe disabilities who currently attend Lincoln Elementary also will attend the new school this fall, Allison said.

A new elementary school at 53rd North and Woodlawn will house Isely Traditional Magnet Elementary, which will become a neighborhood magnet. The current Isely building, 2500 E. 18th St., will be the new home of Mueller’s aerospace and engineering magnet program.

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