Bostic Elementary School will get a $1.3 million addition – including a new storm shelter – thanks to a bond project approved by the Wichita school board Monday.
Board members voted unanimously to approve a contract with Sauerwein Construction to build two special education classrooms, a computer lab and an art room at Bostic, a traditional magnet near Kellogg and Rock Road. The school also will get a new student support office and controlled-entry door.
Part of the addition will be designed as a Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved storm shelter that will accommodate about 600 students and staff members. The district does not expect to receive FEMA funding for the project, however, said Kenton Cox of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey, the district’s bond manager.
The project should be complete by November 2014, Cox said.
During discussion, board member Joy Eakins said she had visited Bostic and heard concerns about traffic flow through the school, since the primary route from the east to the west side of the building is around a stage in the multipurpose room.
“That’s a lot of students, in an emergency, to funnel through those two sets of doors to get to the other side of the building,” Eakins said. “Have we thought through or tested that, or do we know we can really get all of our students through that?”
Board president Jeff Davis looked at Eakins, then at bond manager Kenton Cox, and said, “You wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t feasible, would you?”
Cox, of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey, said the proposed shelter on the west side of Bostic is “not any farther away” from classrooms than ones the district has built in other schools.
He said architects during the 2000 bond issue and the current one had suggested removing the stage to improve traffic flow, but school officials and Bostic families balked.
“There’s a lot of attachment to that little stage,” Cox said. “But as you know, that does create a little bit of a block.”
He said the goal during severe weather drills is to get everyone into the shelter in five minutes or less. “When we get it built, we’ll look at it,” Cox said. “If it turns out that (stage) is an obstacle,” officials may once again suggest removing or relocating it.
“I understand her concern,” Davis said, referring to Eakins’ question. “But I don’t think it’s that big of an issue.”
“I think it’s a worthy question to ask,” she responded. “Because we could have more than half of our students on the opposite side (of the building). … I just think it’s important to ask.”