College Hill Elementary West is ready to go.
The smell of school – freshly waxed floors, books and cleaning supplies – permeated the College Hill Bryant campus Sunday afternoon. Bulletin boards in brightly lit, pristine classrooms and hallways were filled with notes and welcome signs.
“We are ready, we are ready to go,” Wichita superintendent John Allison said of what used to be known as Bryant Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School. Last year, the school district closed its doors and mothballed the building. But after last week’s fire and smoke damaged College Hill Elementary School and postponed the opening of school there, school officials quickly reopened the doors of Bryant.
“Our operations staff is unbelievable,” Allison said. “Everything had to be cleaned, floors stripped and waxed, safety checks were done on fire alarms, fire walls were installed with computers. The network is up. We are ready.”
College Hill Elementary principal Kathleen Patterson said teachers were allowed into the Bryant Elementary building on Friday at 7 a.m. For two days solid, they worked until late evening to prepare classrooms for students on Monday morning. On Sunday, students, parents, teachers and administration staff members were on hand at Bryant to meet, discuss transportation plans and get everyone acquainted for Monday morning, otherwise known as the first day of school.
“I was a little upset about the fire,” said Megan Robb, the mother of first-grader Niah and preschooler Javiair. “The (College Hill) school is right by our house, and I thought, ‘Now I am going to have to drive them across town.’ And then I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, what if they both get out at 4:10 – how am I supposed to be at two places at once?’ It’s kind of crazy to me. But (Bryant) is a nice big school, and they’ve done a great job with it.”
Her comments and concerns were echoed by other parents Sunday as transportation plans were worked through.
“We know there is going to be bumps in the road,” Patterson told parents who gathered in the Bryant school gymnasium. “But these are the same students we’d have no matter where we were. The building doesn’t make a difference. We are going to do our best and take care of these kids with your community support.”
She advised parents to give everyone time.
“What we need this week is to get back into the business of teaching kids.”