Wichita district prepares former school to accommodate College Hill students after fire

06/19/2014 10:13 AM

08/06/2014 10:16 AM

Inside a freshly cleaned classroom at the former Bryant Elementary School, as work crews continued to move furniture and other items, Wichita superintendent John Allison smiled and said: “Welcome to College Hill West.”

Teachers from College Hill Elementary, which was damaged in a fire earlier this week, will begin moving into classrooms at the once-shuttered school near Ninth and West Street on Friday.

“We’re ready to go,” said Kathleen Patterson, principal at College Hill, who spoke during a news briefing Thursday.

“We’ve got a lot more to do in the next two days, but we’ve got a lot of help from the public,” she said. Teachers “just want to start. They want to see their kids and just get started with the school year. And they’re very excited.”

Allison announced other details about the transition for College Hill students, who will start school Monday:

• An open house and meet-the-teacher activity for College Hill families is 4 p.m. Sunday at the temporary school, 4702 W. Ninth St. Students can visit with their assigned teachers and get more information about bus rides, the latchkey program and more.
• Students who normally ride a bus to College Hill will receive transportation to Bryant on the same routes, and will be picked up and dropped off at previously assigned spots.
• The school’s before- and after-school latchkey program will continue to operate at College Hill, at First and Clifton. The school’s cafeteria and music rooms were not damaged in the fire and have space to house the programs, Allison said. Students who attend latchkey will ride buses to and from Bryant for school.
• All other students, including those who typically walk or are dropped off at College Hill, will gather at the school’s cafeteria and ride buses to and from Bryant. Allison said his staff is finalizing drop-off and pick-up times and other details, and will update families at Sunday’s open house as well as via phone calls and e-mails through the district’s automated information system.
• College Hill’s pre-kindergarten program will move temporarily to Price-Harris Elementary, 706 N. Armour.

Meanwhile, a group of parents from College Hill is raising money to help teachers restock and replenish their classrooms.

Lacy Hansen, treasurer of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, established a page on GiveForward.com that allows people to donate directly to the cause.

All donations will be given to College Hill teachers to help buy books, classroom decor, educational supplies, indoor recess activities and other things that were lost or damaged in the fire, Hansen said.

For a link to the fundraising page and updates on the effort, visit the College Hill PTO Facebook page.

Parents considered holding a raffle or other fundraisers, but “I have the feeling that people would just like to give money. They’re not really worried about getting anything back,” said Hansen, whose son, Judah, is a fourth-grader.

Patterson, the principal, said she and her staff are overwhelmed and thankful for the support they have received from the community.

“It’s to the point where we don’t even know what to say,” she said. “Thank you is hardly enough. … We look forward to thanking those people whenever we can and paying it forward if the opportunity ever comes up that someone else needs help.”

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