Schools Under Construction

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Getting kids inspired about returning to school can be a challenge. But a few more of them will be returning to new or at least improved schools in Wichita.

Wichita schools are nearing the end of phase two of the $285 million bond issue that was approved in April of 2000.

It's out with the old, and in with the new. Since 1919 students in east central Wichita have been coming to Washington Elementary School to learn. But they'll no longer be climbing the stairs of the old three-story building.

On Tuesday, Wichita School Board members got a look at the new building where Washington students will be learning the three Rs and more.

The new building has a multi-purpose room in addition to a cafeteria. And students should appreciate having a dedicated music room, something they haven't had the past couple of years.

What's left of the old Washington School will be coming under the wrecking ball and will be removed. A playground will fill its place.

And many students seem to be anxious to visit the new library.

Washington Elementary Principal Carolyn Kindrick says, "The students when they came through the building were so excited. When they saw this room they thought it looked like a mansion. And I hope they look at it as a great place to come to read."

One thing the students won't see is the building's utility room, where Washington's air conditioning unit is. But they'll appreciate the fact that it's there when they return to the classrooms in a few weeks. After all, it was the lack of air conditioning that got the bond issue started in the first place.

School board members also visited Wichita's East high school. The oldest school in the district is seeing some major renovation. East High is the largest bond project. Seventeen and a half million bucks will be spent there.

What catches ones eyes is how different the old gym looks. There is dirt where the hard wood floor was. In another year a new science center will fill what was the old gym. And before long a modern new gym will be ready in time for city league basketball games. The new gym will not be ready for school to begin but should be ready for students sometimes this fall, perhaps as early as mid September.

Board of Education President Mike Kinard says, "We're just excited about seeing all the improvements. It's going to be a wonderful, wonderful facility."

Superintendent Winston Brooks says some teachers are nervous about the building being ready in time for the first day of school. But Brooks insists it will be ready. Classes start at Wichita schools on August 25th.

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