Thanks to a $235 million bond referendum that was recently passed by voters, Kansas City Kansas public schools will be getting quite the makeover.
Four brand new schools will be built, including Welborn Elementary, the oldest school in the district.
The 102 year old building has seen its fair share of memories and has started to show off its age.
“Right when you come in, you can smell that it’s moldy,” Welborn Elementary art teacher, Kate Earl said about her storage closet. “A lot of this material I can’t even use because it’s been infested with water damage.”
Earl says she has had to find unique ways to fix the challenges in her classroom.
“I do not have a sink in my art room, so the running back and forth between classes, obviously I can’t do that,” she said. “So in the morning I have to come in a little early that I have enough water in a bucket to last me throughout the entire day.”
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With students having to go back and forth between two buildings, administrators say safety is one of the biggest concerns.
“This is an active parking lot, so we always want to be careful that we’re being safe with our kids walking across the lot,” KCK Public Schools Spokesperson, David Smith said. “So we have to make sure that we’re always careful walking across the lots. It’s just another challenge that we have to figure out how to manage.”
But new changes are coming. Four school buildings will be replaced, but each of the 47 schools in the district will see some type of renovation or improvement.
“The safety and security will touch every building,” Spokesperson for the KCK Public Schools, David Smith said. “Some of our elementary schools don't have entry ways that are secure, and if they don't, we'll put those in. Nine of our elementary schools don't have playgrounds, so we'll build those playgrounds that don't currently exist.
The new building will house the 540 students all under one roof, and also bring more space to classrooms.
"We want to make sure that all of our kids have options for their future success and the facilities have to support that," Smith said. "And our buildings average 57 years of age so we have some older facilities and we have to continue and upgrade those on behalf of our kids."
“I am soo excited,” Earl said. “I get to design my own art room with the district and be able to go hand in hand with my students.”
Smith says the district has a five year spending plan to manage the several projects throughout the district.
“Now that we have passed the bond, last week, we began the process of selecting a construction manager who will manage all those projects,” he said. “Once that group is selected, they'll then be working with architects to do site surveys and design the buildings then once that's done, then construction will start.”
Smith says construction on Welborn Elementary could start sometime next Summer or Spring.
With this referendum, Smith stated residents will not see an increase in taxes.
Rae Daniel can be reached at Rae.Daniel@KSHB.com.