Demolition has begun on the East High tennis courts, and as part of the 2008 Wichita school district bond issue approved by voters, eight replacement courts will be finished before the fall girls season begins.
And since the demolition has started, East athletic director Kevin Hartley has been able to pull out his tennis court jokes. Such as, "Are you really tearing the courts out? I can't tell much difference."
The $370 million bond issue provided for athletics improvements totaling between $80-$90 million. By the start of next school year, even more improvements will be visible.
From the bond issue, $3.7 million was spent last summer on artificial-turf fields at East, Heights, South, Southeast and Northwest, and about $750,000 was spent on the all-weather track at East.
Construction currently is underway at Heights, Northwest and South for eight replacement tennis courts. The tennis courts cost less than $600,000 at each site.
City League athletic director Bill Faflick said that all athletic projects are currently on schedule and have been under budget by approximately $200,000. He added that the money would be used as a cushion in case other projects, such as tennis courts scheduled for North, Southeast and West, come in over budget.
All money from the bond issue by law must be used on improvements that were included in the proposal that voters passed in 2008.
At Heights, the tennis courts have been moved from the south end of campus to the northwest side along 53rd Street. Northwest's courts are now northwest of the football stadium. East's courts remain south of the school.
All the courts will have pavilions.
North and West will be the final two schools to get artificial turf football/soccer fields. Faflick said the district requested bids for the artificial turf fields and all-weather tracks, due next week. Construction is expected to begin in June.
That's exciting for North girls soccer coach Dale Spaeth, who must drive, along with his players, more than two miles to Cloud Elementary for all practices and home games.
When North's turf field is finished by fall, the Redskins boys and girls soccer teams will play home games on campus.
"I know what it's like to walk out of school to your field, and there's an advantage for that on game day for preparation," Spaeth said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it. There will be a little less stress that way."
West's artificial turf football/soccer field and all-weather track will be under construction at the same time. It will benefit from moving the track and football field. Currently, they are across the street from West, on the south side of Lincoln Street.
"That's going to provide parking access and a lack of traveling across the street all day long with (physical education) classes," Faflick said.
Also out for bid are all-weather tracks at five middle schools — Brooks, Truesdell, Hadley, Mayberry and Stucky.
Not out for bid yet are the building projects, which will start at East and Heights, Faflick said. Each will get a pool and a small gymnasium. Construction should begin this summer with a possible finish date of fall 2011.
East hasn't had a pool since it was demolished to build the new gymnasium following the 2000 bond issue. The pool and small gym will be located on the west side of the main gym.
All district pools will be similar — six lanes, 25 yards, two diving boards and bleacher seating for 350.
Plans for the pools and gyms at North, South, Southeast and West are still in the planning stages. As part of Phase 2, they should be ready by 2011-12.
The new northeast high school is expected to open in the fall of 2012, while the new far southeast school should open in fall 2013, Faflick said.