Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2007

Board picks school site

July 19, 2007

Next year, 6-year-old Jake Haney will begin first grade at Nottingham Elementary School.

Because of growth in the Eudora school district, Jake will be learning in a modular classroom unit.

"I'd prefer him to be in a real classroom," Jake's father Ryan Haney said.

If a $45 million bond passes in November and if construction finishes according to plan on a new first- through fifth-grade elementary school, Ryan Haney's other child, Jenna, 3, could have the opportunity to start her first-grade year in a classroom and in a new building.

After Thursday's Eudora USD 491 Board of Education meeting, the Haneys now know where that building could be.

The board agreed to pay $1,995,000 for 46.6 acres southwest of the intersection at 10th and Peach streets for an elementary school campus. The land is owned by Robert Durr. The purchase is contingent on passage of a Nov. 6 $45 million referendum. Funds for the purchase would be included in the bond.

"From a school district standpoint, I think we feel very good about purchasing the land," Superintendent Marty Kobza said. "It fits the recommendation from the community advisory committee, and it fills the need for a public space for a school for a neighborhood that does not have one of those."

A 45-member citizen advisory committee that convened last fall informed the district of its desire to see a school north of Kansas Highway 10.

Community advisory committee member Linda Dreiling lives near the proposed school site on Sandusky Drive.

"I'm all for it," Dreiling said. "You do have some people who are concerned. I think it's the pure fact that this town is going to grow. There's nothing we can do about it but move forward."

Young families fill the neighborhoods surrounding the property on Peach Street, Dreiling said.

"I'm glad it's close to this part of town," she said.

The board spent several months negotiating for the land before Thursday's announcement.

"When one looks at the costs associated with the property, the board was very responsible," Kobza said.

The board chose the land over other areas further removed for existing infrastructure, Kobza said. It would have been much more expensive to build the school in the other areas, he said.

The $27 million elementary school will be the largest project included in the bond issue.

Architects Jim French and Kevin Greischar presented conceptual drawings of the school to the board.

Preliminary designs for the 1,000-student building by DLR Group depict the school as containing five different "neighborhoods." Each grade level would have its own pod containing two sets of classrooms and a shared "discovery area."

"You'll be the envy of school districts all over," French said.

The board directed DLR Group to start on the detailed project plans for the school. The group will be paid an hourly rate should the bond fail. Design costs for the building would be included in the bond if it passes.

"We want to make sure you're paying us hourly," Greischar said. "We don't want you spending more than that."

It was necessary to draft the plans before November if the district wanted the earliest possible opening for the school, Greischar said.

Should the bond pass, the district tentatively plans to open the school in fall 2009.

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