Archive for Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Community to help open area school

January 12, 2000

Construction workers are scurrying to complete Basehor-Linwood's newest elementary school, which is being built in an area that was mostly farmland about 10 years ago.

"When I first came to work at the school in Basehor in 1986, there was not a single house out here," said Don Swartz, director of operations for the Basehor-Linwood school district.

Today, not only do dozens of homes top the horizon at 158th Street, two miles south of U.S. Highway 24-40, but a new school also has been added to the view.

The 36,600-square-foot Glenwood Ridge Elementary School that contains 19 classrooms will be home to 235 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Scheduled to open in February, the school has a 350-student capacity.

Tom Sack, principal at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School, has been involved in the planning from day one.

Committees reviewed architectural plans and visited other schools to develop the school.

"With the square footage that we had to work with, I think we have an excellent amount of educational space as well as the building being aesthetically pleasing," Sack said.

The highlight of the building is the entrance, an atrium hallway complete with skylights and an area where meetings and classes can be held.

"We're excited," Sack said. "We have a lot of things to plan for the atrium to make it as inviting as possible not the typical school climate, but more of an atmosphere where people would really like to be in the building."

Another area of focus is the library, which is near the entrance.

"We wanted the library right up front so that when people walked in they could see it and know it was important to our school," Sack said. "We wanted literacy to be a major focus."

Computers, too, are a focus.

The school's computer lab will house 28 IMAC computers, and one will be in every classroom as well.

Installing wiring for these computers is no small matter.

In one of the building's interior classrooms last week, Scott Gamble, an installation technician with Midwest Communications, Parkville, Mo., leaned against a wall as he took a break from his work. Near him, hundreds of blue and white wires draped in long bundles from the ceiling.

"Everybody looks at that and sees a big thing of spaghetti over there," Gamble said. "But every one of those wires is numbered. They're all numbered so you know which one goes where."

His boss, Alan Hoy, Kansas City, Mo., said that about 29,000 feet of wire running above the building's ceiling will connect the school's computers. By the time the communications wiring is installed this week, it will have taken about 700 hours to complete the job, Hoy said.

Another man keeping track of numbers around Glenwood Ridge is Rodney Deforest, job site superintendent for Murray and Sons Construction Co., Topeka.

The company started construction on Feb. 8, 1999.

"If I'm done on February 9, like I'm supposed to be, it'll be one year and a day," Deforest said.

Construction would probably have been further along if not for summer's weather, he said.

"If we hadn't have had all that rain during the summer, I think we would have been done considerably sooner," Deforest said.

The $3.4 million school building on 319 acres owned by the district will include a 6,000-square-foot maintenance building south of the school, Swartz said.

Until Basehor's sewer system is completed in the spring of 2001, the school will operate on a septic system. A lagoon is located behind a hill, about 300 yards east of the school.

Most of the students who will attend the school live between U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 32, Swartz said. These students have been attending school at Basehor Elementary this year. They have been in the same classes, so next month's transition to the new school should be smoother for the children.

Sack said fine-tuning the move has been a project for district employees, as well as for parents.

"There are a lot of parents involved," Sack said. "Our PTA members will be helping with a considerable amount of the move, moving a lot of the teachers' materials things like that."

School personnel will move desks, chairs and other heavy items, he said.

"Right now we're looking at that building being turned over to us around February 9, and we're hoping to be able to move in the weekend of February 19," Sack said.

Sack said he's looking forward to the move.

"We are very excited," he said. "And a little bit nervous, too."

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