School bond passes to build new Circle High School

The Circle school district will be getting a new high school building in Towanda.

Nearly 60 percent of the votes counted Tuesday supported the $37.12 million bond issue, Butler County Clerk Don Engels said.

The money will go to replace the existing high school, built in 1962, expand Oil Hill Elementary and make improvements to other schools in the district.

“It’s good to see the support of the community,” said district superintendent Jim Keller. “It’s been about two years in the making.”

The unofficial count showed 1,654 voted yes and 1,104 voted no. The election was conducted with mail-in ballots, and all were due to Engles’ office by noon Tuesday.

The school district includes a slice of Wichita – halfway between Rock and Webb roads and south to 29th Street North.

Work on the high school and elementary will begin in the fall. The new high school is expected to open in 2016.

Increase in the number of students and problems with the existing building – including a bad roof, splitting walls and a cranky boiler system – drove the need for a new high school, Keller said.

“The infrastructure of this school is not in good shape,” he added. “We just hope the boiler holds up until we get the new school built.”

Because of space limitations at the high school, some of its 535 students – about triple of what it had 50 years ago – had to travel to Circle Towanda Primary for classes. The new school will have room for 800 students.

The new school will be built just south of the current facility. The existing auditorium and supplemental gymnasium will continue to be used by the new school, Keller said. But the rest of the old school will be torn down once the new one is completed.

The current high school’s dome roof is a familiar sight, and there was community support to keep that circle. So a circular amphitheater will be set in the middle of the new school.

“One of the main requirements of the review committee was that we maintain the circle concept,” Keller said. “That was real important to people here.”

The bond issue will also pay for heating and cooling upgrades to the gymnasiums at Benton Elementary and Towanda Intermediate. That work is expected to be completed this summer.

Expansion of Oil Hill Elementary will start in the fall and is scheduled to be completed by 2016.