A milo field in southwest Lawrence once considered as a possible site for a shopping mall now is being eyed by the Lawrence school district as a location for new schools.
The Lawrence school board on Monday voted 7-0 in favor of locating a new elementary school and a new junior high school on property southwest of the T-intersection of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Road.
The property borders Clinton Parkway's south side and would border the west side of Inverness if that street extended south of Clinton Parkway.
The 58.8-acre property is owned by Minnie Mae Clevenger, 2622 Belle Haven, and presently is used to grow milo and brome grass.
"We really weren't looking to sell the property," Clevenger said. Nevertheless, Clevenger said she understands the importance of schools and already has begun negotiating with the district.
In 1986, Clevenger had been approached by a developer from Arkansas who wanted to build a mall on the property. Although Clevenger was strongly motivated to sell the property to the developer, the deal fell through.
A $29.9 MILLION school bond issue proposal developed by the board calls for the construction of an elementary school in west Lawrence and a fourth junior high school.
The bond issue also would allow a replacement for India School to be built on district-owned property in southeast Lawrence. The package also calls for the renovation of Lawrence High School and Central Junior High School and the expansion of Wakarusa Valley School.
The board selected the Clevenger property on the recommendation of the district's site selection committee. Board Vice President John Tacha, a member of the committee, said the location is ideal in that a new elementary school there easily could absorb enrollment from Quail Run, Wakarusa Valley and Schwegler schools, all of which are experiencing problems with overcrowding.
A NEW JUNIOR high school at the site, Tacha said, also would relieve a lot of enrollment pressure at South Junior High School, which this year saw a 7.5 percent increase in its enrollment.
"Another criterion was that we build something that's going to look at future expansion and take care of those needs," Tacha said. "This is a huge expansion area."
Tacha said many of the eight other sites were less favorable either because they were too close to other schools, because it would have been more difficult to get utilities connected to those sites or because the sites didn't provide enough acreage.
Lawrence School Supt. Al Azinger said the district probably will need between 30 and 40 acres for the junior high-elementary school complex. Although the board has not been guaranteed a fixed price for the property, Azinger said he thinks the board can get the property at a fair price.
"ONE OF THE safeguards we've always got is the condemnation process in which the legal procedure is designed to ensure a fair price," Azinger said. "Before we would pay an inappropriate price, we would go to that process. Then we're theoretically paying what the land's worth, which is fair.
"We would prefer not to do that for a whole lot of reasons, of course, but not to the extent that we're going to pay an unreasonable price for that land."
The bond issue dollar amount includes the cost of land for the two schools, Azinger said.
"We also have some flexibility in terms of that in that if we need to, we can use some of the district's capital outlay (funds)," Azinger said.
Although the board has decided on a location for the new schools, the district has yet to perform a site analysis of the property to see whether it's viable to build school buildings there.
Tacha declined to say whether the committee has a second choice to the Clevenger property.