Wichita's Board of Education voted 6 - 0 last night to relocate Southeast High School to a new location.
After months of discussion and hearing community feedback, the board decided to build a new high school at Pawnee and 127th Street East.
Board members had considered three options for Southeast: renovate the existing facility at Lincoln and Edgemoor; build a new facility; or renovate the existing facility and build a new one farther east in Wichita.
Over the past few months, the board received feedback from parents, students and the community. They reported that proposals for moving Southeast to a new location and keeping the school at its current location received equal amount of support from the community.
While there is sufficient bond issue money to build both facilities, recent education funding cuts from state lawmakers mean that operating both the current school and a new school would cause funding cuts to other Wichita schools.
State funding is the driving factor for the changes to the bond issue after it was passed in 2008.
"During the bond issue campaign, little did I know the state legislature would ignore a Supreme Court ruling to adequately fund schools," says BOE President Lynn Rogers.
Board member Sheril Logan says this was a hard decision for her.
“What I wound up doing was looking at the feedback from the students and the majority of them wanted a new building as long as the students and the traditions stay together,” she says.
Mary Dean, president of Kansas Justice Advocate, walked out of the meeting after the vote.
“I thought it was a disgrace,” Dean said. "The board already knew how they were going to vote."
Dean said the board didn't vote to keep schools in neighborhoods, but "supported the developers who are building schools in suburban areas.”
Dean is also concerned about families who have limited or no transportation to participate in school activities.
“They don’t have a way to get to the parent teacher conferences," she said. Dean feels the decision to move the school farther east will significantly increase busing for Southeast students.
“This really saddens me," she said. "Busing is going to impact a great number of low-income students."
Officials from Wichita Area Technical College say they're interested in moving some of their technical programs to the building. USD 259 may also move some district administrative offices there.