Crews soon will break ground on several new schools and high school swimming pools as part of the bond issue approved in 2008 for Wichita schools.
Wichita school board members approved plans Monday for the following bond projects:
* A new K-8 school at 53rd Street North and Woodlawn in Bel Aire. The board authorized a contract with Walz Harman Huffman Construction Inc. for $15.9 million to build the school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.
* A new Isley Elementary School, which will replace the current school at 2500 E. 18th St. Board members approved a contract with the Law Co. Inc. for $8.5 million to build the school, set to open in 2012. The design is similar to one being used for the new Dodge Elementary School in west Wichita.
* Additions and renovations to Jackson Elementary School, which was built as part of a 2000 bond issue. Walz Harman Huffman landed the contract for the $1.57 million project, which will add nine classrooms and restrooms and is scheduled to be completed by next summer.
* And new or renovated swimming pools at six Wichita high schools and two new schools — one in the northeast and another in the southeast part of the district — when they are built. The board authorized a contract with Vanum Construction Co. Inc. for $5.7 million to build the pools.
"I know this has been controversial," board member Lynn Rogers said of the pools. "In some cases, people think we should not be doing this. But this was a very visible component of the bond issue campaign, and I think we need to continue to follow through with that."
The district's newest swimming pool, at Northwest High, already is 32 years old, Rogers said. North High School's pool is closer to 80 years old, and East High has been without a pool since 2003.
"This is also a community-shared space, just like our gymnasiums," said board member Lanora Nolan. "It will be a very wonderful asset in our community where maybe there aren't community pools available, so it's just very exciting."
It's unclear when all of the pools will be completed. The contract approved Monday was for the pools themselves and did not include the cost of the rooms or buildings that will house them.