Ground broken for southeast K-8 school

A new K-8 school in the southeast corner of the Wichita district moved a step closer to completion Wednesday with a chilly groundbreaking ceremony that included the planting of daffodil bulbs at the site.

"These flowers will bloom this spring, and they will remind us we have to be patient," said Superintendent John Allison. "The end result will be worth the wait."

The $16 million school is being built to relieve crowding in the district's southeast quadrant, particularly at Seltzer Elementary. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.

It is the second new K-8 school to be funded by a $370 million bond issue that voters approved in 2008.

The school will feature three classroom wings, a library, an 800-seat auditorium, music suites and a gymnasium that will serve as a storm shelter. It is designed to eventually become a middle school as district growth demands.

GLMV Architecture designed the project. Straub Construction Co. is the contractor.

It was the fourth groundbreaking ceremony in as many months for the Wichita district, which will build six new schools as part of the bond issue.

It also came the morning after Allison announced that the district may have to cut as much as $30 million from its budget for the 2011-12 school year.

Standing beside a "Progress as Promised" sign at the new school site Wednesday, Allison noted that, though some have questioned the timing of the new schools, the district is bound by law to use bond money for construction and renovation projects.

"We know our financial future is going to be rough, especially for the next few years," Allison said. "But ... when we passed this bond issue, we made a promise to voters to improve and upgrade our schools."

Building new schools means the district will need to redraw attendance boundaries for much of the district's eastern half. Officials are studying demographic information and expect to present boundary options to board members in the spring, Allison said.

Another committee, appointed by school board members, will consider naming options for the new K-8 school. Its principal, staff, colors and mascot will be decided later.

Wichita school board member Barb Fuller thanked the crowd gathered for Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony and taxpayers who voted to approve the 2008 bond issue.

"We're seeing our dreams fulfilled for a brighter future for the students of the southeast part of our district," she said.