Archive for Monday, September 9, 2013

School board approves expansion plan for elementary schools

September 9, 2013


The Lawrence school board agreed tonight to expand the scope of bond-funded construction projects by adding 12 more new classrooms at various elementary schools, plus unfinished space for another six classrooms in the future at Sunset Hill Elementary.

That brings to 29 the total number of new classrooms, or potential new classrooms, to be funded with the recently passed $92.5 million bond issue.

Those plans, district officials said, are the result of larger-than-expected enrollment growth this year, mainly at schools west of Iowa Street.

"One of the worst things we could do is conclude our bond construction process and not have enough room," Superintendent Rick Doll said. Without the additional classrooms, he said, the time would soon come when some buildings would have to add temporary "mobile" classrooms or the district would have to seek voter approval for another bond issue.

One of the main purposes of the bond issue, he noted, was the desire to get rid of mobile classrooms currently used at some of the buildings.

"This is the right time to think about the number of elementary classrooms" the district needs, Doll said.

The original plan for the bond issue included adding a total of 11 new classrooms in elementary buildings. Some of those were to allow for growth, and some to eliminate mobile units.

But the plan approved tonight calls for 23 new classrooms, plus the addition of six unfinished "shell" spaces at Sunset Hill school that could be used for future growth as the district needs.

Doll said Sunset Hill was chosen for the shell space because of its central location at 9th and Schwartz Road. Adding room there, he said, would allow that building to absorb growth in neighboring attendance areas by adjusting boundaries of the attendance zones.

Assistant Superintendent Kyle Hayden said the biggest surprise in this year's enrollment numbers was at Deerfield school, 101 Lawrence Ave., where enrollment jumped by 41 students - more than it had been projected to gain over the next five years. He said most of that growth came from new kindergarten enrollment.

That brings total enrollment at Deerfield this year to 511.

Originally, the district had not planned to add classrooms at Deerfield, but the revised plan now calls for adding three rooms there.

The plan also calls for adding three rooms at Sunflower, two each at Kennedy and Langston Hughes, and one each at Pinckney and Schwegler.

That will bring four of the district's 14 elementary schools - Deerfield, Langston Hughes, Sunflower and Sunset Hill - up to the maximum size that district officials say they're willing to accept for any one school: four full sections of each grade, K-5, for a total of 24 classrooms.

That means if those schools continue to grow, officials will have to consider either adjusting attendance boundaries or building additional schools.

"We may have to look at how to accommodate growth in other ways," board vice president Shannon Kimble said.

In other business, the board:

• Agreed to sell 2.31 acres at Bob Billings Parkway and the South Lawrence Trafficway to the Kansas Department of Transportation for $173,250. KDOT is purchasing the land for a new interchange.

• Approved an owner-architect agreement with BG Consultants for design of bond-funded mechanical and electrical renovations at Quail Run, Sunflower, Prairie Park and Broken Arrow schools, as well as the four middle schools.

• Selected Nevius Serig Palmer Architecture of Overland Park as the lead architect, working in partnership with Sabatini Architects of Lawrence, for the planned new College and Technical Education Center.

• Gave preliminary approval to a revised set of board goals for the 2013-14 school year.

Education news
Have a story idea?
Contact Journal-World education reporter Elliot Hughes:


Steve Jacob 4 years, 7 months ago

Not saying the rooms are not needed, but again the school district is changing how bond money is being used after the fact. And spending extra money on this takes away money from somewhere else that the voters approved of.

aryastark1984 4 years, 7 months ago

Peter Hancock, care to correct the mistaken impression given by your article?

Peter Hancock 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe the story is in error. But perhaps it could be clearer. The projects about to get underway are bond-funded projects. The school board on Monday authorized expanding the scope of those projects by adding additional new classrooms. The funding, as explained in our precede story Monday, will be a combination of (a) interest earned on the deposit of bond proceeds; (b) a premium paid on the sale of the bonds; and (c) some capital outlay funds. See:

The administration is assuring the public that the additional classrooms will not result in cutting back on any of the projects previously planned with the original $92.5 million. Those projects are going forward as planned, Superintendent Rick Doll said. These are additional projects on top of those.

IreneAdler84 4 years, 7 months ago

It was not in error, but it omitted important information that any reasonable person would need to form an opinion.

Nonsense 4 years, 7 months ago

Adjust the boundary lines already. It is ridiculous that everything is crowded on the west end when there is capacity on the east end.

peartree 4 years, 7 months ago

It doesn't bode well for socioeconomic equality in the schools, but I know there are families moving west because they think the schools are better. Of course it's more complex that that.

peartree 4 years, 7 months ago

I'd be interested to see the enrollment totals for all the schools (and their current and projected capacities).

deec 4 years, 7 months ago

Gee, maybe they should stop closing schools so the capacity would already be in place. Nahhhh, that would make too much sense.

Christine Pennewell Davis 4 years, 7 months ago

What room at the east end? Have portables at Kennedy sure prairie park is over full also. maybe a few schools should have not been shut down we all knew those kids had to go somewhere right?

William Ed 4 years, 7 months ago

The Oracles that look down from above must be scratching whatever they scratch, as they watch the USD 497 Carnival Shell Scammer shill the rubes one more time. Let's see, the district is short of classrooms. I guess the buildings that used to be elementary schools at East Heights, Centennial and Wakarusa didn't really have classrooms, they were unfinished shells or storage areas or whatever. Therefore they could not be used for classrooms, without being refurbished. But then wouldn't the district rather build a new school, like Sunset Hill with it's 14 new classrooms at an estimated cost of $9.3 Million plus the 3 new classrooms and six shells; that seems like a whole new school, but I guess it really isn't. We can't change the boundaries now to use the facilities that are available, BUT in the future we may have to change boundaries so we can justify building new schools.

"That means if those schools continue to grow, officials will have to consider either adjusting attendance boundaries or building additional schools.

We may have to look at how to accommodate growth in other ways," board vice president Shannon Kimble said.

Sounds to me like the scammer telling the shill how we are going to become ventriloquists so we can learn to speak from both sides of our mouths.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

It makes dollars and sense to include these new spaces now. Better to spend the money on academics than using USD 497 tax dollars to expand PLAY.

USD 497 did well on the SLT land deal. How unusual yet appreciated.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

"The additional projects could be financed with the $600,000 premium the district earned on the sale of its bonds; an estimated $500,000 in interest it expects to earn on the deposit of bond proceeds; and $2 million in capital improvement funds."

From the LJW.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.