Wichita school board extends superintendent's contract

Wichita school board members voted tonight to extend superintendent John Allison's contract for three years, saying they are "totally impressed" with his leadership since he took the helm two years ago.

After a brief meeting and 2 1/2-hour executive session, board members dealt with the matter as an off-agenda item, voting unanimously to extend Allison's contract under the current terms.

Allison became superintendent of Wichita schools, the state's largest district, in 2009. He makes a base salary of $225,000 a year.

"We are 100 percent, all of us, totally impressed with Mr. Allison and the job he's been doing," board president Connie Dietz said after the meeting.

"None of us anticipated the current situation when he started," she said. "But he's done a tremendous job not only learning the district but coming in and handling very difficult budget decisions."

Earlier this week, Allison presented a budget plan that includes $27.7 million in cuts for the coming school year. The district cut about $14 million from its budget last year and $34 million in 2009.

Tonight, he said it was "nice to have the board's support" for another three years.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but I look forward to continuing to work toward our district's goals."

In another off-agenda item, board members voted to accept $670,000 to settle a lawsuit it filed to pay for repairs made to Allison Traditional Magnet Middle School.

The lawsuit, filed by the district about a year ago against three engineering and construction firms, claimed renovations made to the school as part of a 2000 bond project were "inappropriate and unsafe" and a "clear violation of the existing building code."

Defendants in the lawsuit were: Professional Engineering Consultants, the structural engineering consultant; McCluggage Van Sickle and Perry, the project's architecture firm, which last year merged with Gossen-Livingston Architects to form GLMV; and Key Construction, the general contractor.

According to the lawsuit, an "excessively thick layer of concrete fill" on the floors as part of a $6 million renovation to the school rendered the floors unable to bear the required load for students, teachers and furniture in classrooms. The stress caused damage to existing flooring and cracks in the building's structure, the suit stated.

The district discovered the damage in July 2009. Twelve classrooms at Allison were shut down for the repair work, and students and staff crammed into available space. The classrooms reopened in January.

The repairs were similar to ones made at Hamilton Middle School. In February, the school board accepted nearly $1.9 million to resolve a lawsuit filed to pay for those repairs.