Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2002

District laying groundwork for new schools

February 20, 2002

The school district is taking the first steps so it will be poised to build a new school if enrollment increases.

Next week, board members will interview architects from DLR, Overland Park, and ACI Frangkiser Hutchens Inc., Leawood. Both firms have designed schools.

"They have an impressive track record of helping plan for facilities improvements," said Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson said. "These two firms are also willing to work on a contingency building program is actually approved and completed."

The two firms were selected by the district's facility improvement needs committee. Members of the committee have been meeting for six months, talking to teachers and staff at the elementary, junior high and high schools, as well as to district patrons, about what the district's needs are. In January, about 20 members of this committee toured the 2-year-old Glenwood Ridge Elementary School and the remodeled Basehor-Linwood High School.

At the February school board meeting, board members said building plans should move at a slow pace.

"I don't think there is anything wrong in talking to these guys, as long as we understand we don't need a new school now with our enrollment down," said board member Ron Moore.

The basic plans, developed by the district's facility improvement needs committee, are:

Convert the present kindergarten through sixth grade building (Tonganoxie Elementary School) into a building for kindergartners through fourth-graders, with major remodeling, additional classrooms, a library and lunchroom.

Build a new school for fifth- through eighth-graders on the district's 80 acres, which are southeast of the intersection of Pleasant and Washington streets.

Remodel the present junior- and senior-high campus, making it a campus for freshmen through seniors. Build an addition to the front of the existing high school, adding a 2,000-square-foot commons area and about a 6,000-square-foot area for four classrooms and two storage rooms.

Construct a new vocational building on the high school campus, for agricultural, automotive and building trades classes.

The estimated cost of $15 million to $20 million could likely be trimmed to $10 million to $15 million, Erickson said. The start date of the project would be four or five years from now, he said, if the community supports the project by passing a bond issue.

Board member Terri Needham said the district should work with the city to determine how an adequate supply of water can be provided at the school's 80-acre site, where a middle school is contemplated.

They also are considered working with the city to pave roads for the middle school.

Board member Phil Weide said he thought it would cost about $225 for each square foot of linear roads.

Board member Richard Dean cautioned the board that building plans made now should be flexible.

"What we want now, we may not want five years from now," Dean said.

Board members also expressed concern about taxpayers, with Needham saying the Tonganoxie area needs more commercial businesses and industries to help finance a bond issue.

"This could be a big hit to single-family dwellings," she said.

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