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$5 million OK'd for College Hill repairs; school set to open in fall

College Hill Elementary remains closed after a fire last summer caused “substantially more than the initial assessment” in damages, according to a district document. (March 10, 2014)
College Hill Elementary remains closed after a fire last summer caused “substantially more than the initial assessment” in damages, according to a district document. (March 10, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

College Hill Elementary School should be repaired, upgraded and ready for students by fall, Wichita district leaders said Monday.

Wichita school board members approved $5 million worth of repairs and other expenses related to a fire that heavily damaged the school at First and Clifton in August.

Officials said insurance will reimburse the district for any insurance-fund expenses above a $250,000 deductible. The district also will spend $500,000 in capital outlay funds on repairs and upgrades.

“As opposed to putting items back in the building the way they were installed in the ’70s, when the building was originally built, we’re wanting to put items back according to our current standards,” said Julie Hedrick, director of facilities. “So it will be similar to other buildings that are being built new.”

Included in the $5 million damage estimate are repairs to the roof, windows and mechanical systems, Hedrick said. Insurance also will reimburse the district for costs associated with readying the former Bryant Elementary, near Ninth and West, as an alternate school site, Hedrick said.

The estimate also includes reimbursements to teachers for classroom supplies and personal items, she said.

Building repairs should be done by mid-May, but students will stay at Bryant for the remainder of the school year, Hedrick said.

When they return to College Hill in the fall, the school will have a new roof, furniture, security system, heating and air-conditioning system, electrical fixtures and computer network wiring. Movable partitions between some classrooms also will be replaced with permanent walls.

“If there is a silver lining, it was that because of the structural damage to the building, we were able to go in and replace the mechanical systems,” said superintendent John Allison.

“This was the perfect opportunity, since school was not being held there, to take care of those things.”

In other business Monday, the school board approved a $1.2 million bond project at Buckner Performing Arts Magnet Elementary School, 3530 E. 27th St. North. The project includes a new drama classroom, controlled-access entry and remodeled classrooms.

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