June 13, 2012

Wichita school district to auction former Booth Elementary building

A Wichita school that has sat vacant for nearly a decade will be auctioned next month.

A Wichita school that has sat vacant for nearly a decade will be auctioned next month.

Booth Elementary School, 5920 E. Mt. Vernon in southeast Wichita, will go up for auction July 31 as school officials look to get rid of some of the district’s surplus properties.

“It’s imperative for us to start looking at possibly selling some properties,” said Denise Wren, chief operations officer for the Wichita district.

“Knowing our financial situation and the time and resources it takes, we really can’t keep these buildings up in a way that will meet the needs of neighbors,” she said. “We have done it and will continue to do it, but it just gets to be more of a challenge the more buildings you have.”

Over the past two decades, the district has closed or consolidated more than 20 schools. Several have been leased or sold, including historic properties near downtown that developers converted into apartments or condominiums.

Others remain in the district’s inventory.

Booth Elementary was built in 1954. In 1990 it became Booth Early Childhood Center, with pre-kindergarten and one of the city’s first all-day kindergarten programs. It closed in 2003 and its students were moved to nearby Allen Elementary.

The building and surrounding property, about 2.4 acres, are zoned single-family residential.

Other vacant school buildings include Blackbear Bosin Academy (formerly Price Elementary) in a neighborhood near 13th and Woodlawn, and Longfellow Elementary, 2116 S. Main, which the district keeps for emergencies.

Four elementaries — Bryant, Emerson, Lincoln and Mueller — closed last month as part of cost-cutting measures related to new school boundaries.

Metro-Boulevard Alternative High School recently was vacated and its program moved to the former Northeast Magnet High School building after officials discovered structural problems at that school, which was built in 1927.

Wren said district officials opted to auction Booth “to just kind of see what we could get for the building and see what type of potential buyers we could have.”

She said the district has the right to refuse any potential buyer. A final sale would require board action.

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