Wichita school board members on Monday approved the sale of the district’s downtown administration building to developer David Burk, who plans to turn the building into loft apartments.
The district will lease the building from Burk’s company until it can move its offices to the current Southeast High School at Lincoln and Edgemoor sometime after the new Southeast High opens in the fall of 2016.
“What you have before you tonight really answers each of those requirements that the board established” when it proposed moving district offices to Southeast, superintendent John Allison told school board members.
“The price, we feel, is very much a fair market value. The use of the building fits perfectly with the downtown plan,” he said.
According to the deal approved unanimously Monday, the district will sell the building at 201 N. Water to Water Street Lofts LLC for $1.2 million. After closing sometime next month, it will lease the building for $4,700 a month, using proceeds from the sale to make the lease payments.
Board member Lynn Rogers said the sale is another step toward a plan set in motion in June 2013, when the board voted to build a new, $60 million high school at 127th Street East and Pawnee. Board members pledged to consolidate district offices at the old Southeast as well as to negotiate with Wichita Area Technical College to locate some of its programs there.
“I think having the administrative side there and the higher-education piece will be the best use for that property at the old Southeast and for that neighborhood as well,” Rogers said.
The nine-story Alvin E. Morris Administrative Center, commonly referred to as AMAC, has housed Wichita district administrative offices since 1994, Allison said.
Earlier in the day Monday, district officials told Wichita teachers they will have some flexibility regarding an end-of-semester workday scheduled for Dec. 22.
Some teachers were upset last week over what they said was a lack of communication and flexibility regarding the half-day workday.
According to district spokeswoman Wendy Johnson, teachers will be given the option of working their required 3.5 hours either late Dec. 19 or on the morning of Dec. 20. Decisions will be made buildingwide. If a teacher is unable to work the extended time period, he or she still will have the option of working Dec. 22, Johnson said.
Larry Smith, a history and government teacher at Wichita East High School and a member of the United Teachers of Wichita executive board, thanked administrators Monday for allowing teachers some flexibility with the workday.
“It’s unfortunate that a lack of communication caused a lot of the frustration and stress,” Smith said.
“Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals and to be given reasonable flexibility regarding this duty shift. We appreciate the district working to make this happen.”
Also on Monday, board members approved a $4.3 million contract with Compton Construction for a bond project at Brooks Magnet Middle School in northeast Wichita.
The school, a STEM and arts magnet at 3802 E. 27th St. North, will get a new gym, music classrooms, kitchen and cafeteria addition and student support offices. The gym and music additions will double as storm shelters. The project is expected to be complete by March 2016.