Wichita school board to discuss Southeast High’s future

06/09/2013 6:06 PM

08/06/2014 2:16 AM

Over the past several months, people have talked about Southeast High School.

They asked questions. They toured school buildings. They called and e-mailed board members. They completed an online survey. At times, they argued. They shared input, opinions and concerns about options the Wichita school board is considering for Southeast High.

On Monday, board members will begin discussing in earnest what should happen with Southeast.

They plan to vote June 24 on whether to renovate and expand the school at Lincoln and Edgemoor, build a new school at 127th Street East and Pawnee, or both.

“Our focus and our goal is to make sure, with whatever hand we’ve been dealt, that we continue to provide a top-quality education for every student in the district,” said board member Betty Arnold.

“My concern is and always has been doing what’s best for the district as a whole,” she said. “Whatever way we end up going with Southeast, that’s our top concern.”

On Monday, representatives from Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research, which led a series of community discussions in May, will report their findings to the board. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the North High School lecture hall, 1437 Rochester.

About 100 people attended a community meeting May 21 that was designed to gather public input on the pros and cons of each option.

Their responses to several questions – What excites you most about each option? What concerns you most? What’s most important for the future of Southeast High? – were recorded on easels and notecards to be shared with district leaders.

The board is considering three options for Southeast High, the largest of the remaining projects from a $370 million bond issue approved by voters in 2008. They are:

• Expand Southeast High at its current location, 903 S. Edgemoor, adding a new gymnasium, ballfields, swimming pool, fine arts suite and more. This option would cost between $16.7 million and $22.5 million, depending on the cost of land acquisition, demolition and drainage improvements, Superintendent John Allison said.
• Build a new Southeast High at 127th Street East and Pawnee. The new school, which would accommodate 1,800 students and include a football stadium and other athletic facilities, is estimated to cost about $54 million.
• Expand Southeast and build a smaller, Class 5A high school, as proposed in the initial bond issue plan. Building both would cost about $56.3 million up front, Allison said, but would add $10 million a year in operating costs – money he said the district couldn’t afford without making extensive cuts to other high schools.

Board members are not expected to take action on the Southeast High issue on Monday. They will discuss it again at their regular meeting June 17 and before the vote on June 24.

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