Education

Wichita school board to consider contract for Southeast High athletic facilities

Construction goes on at the new Southeast High School during a tour Thursday. It is slated to open next August. (Oct. 1, 2015)
Construction goes on at the new Southeast High School during a tour Thursday. It is slated to open next August. (Oct. 1, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Wichita school board members on Monday will consider a $3 million contract to build outdoor athletic facilities at the new Southeast High School.

The proposed contract with Dondlinger and Sons Construction Co. would pay for a new track and turf, a field events area, tennis courts, baseball and softball practice fields and a groundskeeper area at the new school near 127th Street East and Pawnee.

If approved, that would put the school’s price tag at more than $65 million.

School board members voted in 2013 to build the new school, by far the largest and most expensive project approved as part of the 2008 bond issue. It will replace the current Southeast High at Lincoln and Edgemoor, which opened in 1957.

The contract being considered Monday does not include plans for a football stadium. District officials said earlier this year that dwindling bond funds, rising construction costs and the loss of millions in federal and state matching dollars mean two new district stadiums – as proposed in the original 2008 bond plan – likely won’t be built soon.

During budget talks earlier this year, officials also said continued expenses for the new Southeast High, scheduled to open next fall, will leave less in the district’s capital outlay budget for general maintenance and improvements.

Wichita school board members also will hear an update Monday on Kansas state assessment scores, which are scheduled to be distributed to parents next week, after a two-month delay.

District officials had initially projected that individual student reports – which show children’s scores on each test and how they compare to median scores for their school, district and the state as a whole – would go out in October.

Lisa Lutz, the district’s testing coordinator, said state system shutdowns, a programming error and faulty data delayed getting and distributing student test reports.

“We look at (assessment data) to kind of check and verify, and when there are issues, we try to call and get things cleared up,” Lutz said. “You just need to sort through things, and that takes time.”

She said principals would start receiving individual student reports on Tuesday, and they are being directed to get them to parents by Dec. 22, the last day before winter break.

The Kansas Department of Education’s building report card, which shows how students at each school performed on last year’s state assessments, was posted online last week.

The searchable database, at ksreportcard.ksde.org, is the public’s first comprehensive look at how students scored on last year’s more rigorous, Common Core-aligned state tests.

“Because this is a new assessment geared towards a new set of academic standards, the results cannot be compared to any previous years,” the department’s website says.

“State assessments provide an opportunity for teachers, parents and students alike to check in on the student’s academic progress, but should only be viewed as one piece of the overall picture of a student.”

State and local education officials have warned that the scores could look bad. State-level results released in September showed that a majority of Kansas students were not on track to be ready for college-level work, although most performed at grade level on the tests.

“It is an expected outcome that when the bar is raised, there will be a lower percentage of students reaching that higher standard initially,” the website notes. “This is not an indication that student performance has declined; it is simply a product of asking them to perform at higher levels.”

Lori Doyle, principal at Wichita Southeast High, got an early look at the new school under construction. (Oct. 1, 2015)

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