Supporters of a local nonprofit learning center urged Wichita school district leaders Monday to let them buy one of the district’s vacant buildings.
“We want to inspire you to be part of this exciting project, and we want your support,” said Nancy Compton, a member of the Fundamental Learning Center board of directors.
“We would love to take dark, silent hallways … and bring them back to life with children learning and exploring their potential.”
Officials with the Fundamental Learning Center say they offered the Wichita school district $350,000 for either the former Emerson Elementary, near 13th and Meridian, or the former Blackbear Bosin Academy, near 13th and Woodlawn.
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District leaders said they’re not interested – at least right now – in selling either property.
“The administration is currently working on developing a plan for the use and/or the sale, depending on what we need to do with our facilities,” school board president Sheril Logan said Monday.
That plan will be presented to board members “within the next year, as soon as it’s completed,” she said.
“So there is a plan in place. It is moving. It may not be moving as fast as you would like,” Logan said, “but you’ll certainly be notified as this plan moves forth and as we begin to decide what buildings are currently going to be available.”
Jeanine Phillips, executive director of the learning center, said the center wants to expand its Right Literacy Academy, an intensive reading program for children in kindergarten through third grade.
The group had hoped to secure a property – preferably an unused school building – and move in this summer to be ready before next school year.
“I would love to see a plan that would open up one of those two buildings for us to purchase,” Phillips said. “We have to move very quickly, though. … If this doesn’t work out, we’ll just have to look at other options, other spaces.”
Four people addressed school board members on behalf of the learning center Monday.
Roger Lowe, a former vice president at Wichita State University who now serves on the Fundamental Learning Center board, said the district’s decision to not sell one of its five vacant school buildings was “very disappointing,” and he urged officials to reconsider.
“(Selling) either of these buildings would eliminate the liability on your books and would become an asset on ours,” Lowe said. “It appears only logical that the taxpayers in this community would welcome you making one of these facilities available … for the purpose of educating children.”