By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
A groundbreaking slated for Tuesday afternoon by the Baxter Springs School District was rescheduled for next Tuesday morning because of expected inclement weather, but dirt work already is under way in order to keep $8 million in construction projects on track.
They include an 18,000-square-foot seventh- and eighth-grade middle school addition at Baxter Springs High School, a 10,300-square-foot cafeteria and sixth-grade addition at Central Elementary, and a 4,000-square-foot kindergarten wing being built at Lincoln.
Superintendent Dennis Burke said dirt work began last month on the middle school project, to be followed this spring by the project at Central, then the Lincoln project this summer.
“We’re staggering the starts to allow the district to finish all projects at the same time, and be ready for occupation after students and staff return from Christmas break in January 2014,” Burke said.
The projects were approved by voters last April after two previous bond issues failed. They include storm shelters, built to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards, that when school is not in use will be open to the community.
“After the Joplin tornado, the board felt strongly about providing that,” Burke said.
The district has seen steady growth for almost a decade, he said, going from 895 students nine years ago to 1,058 students this year. That growth, paired with a middle school that was nearing 100 years old and needed “major renovations,” Burke said, spurred the district to pursue the projects.
The Board of Education sold the Baxter Springs Middle School building to Prairie Fire LLC, of Olathe, which plans to convert the building into senior citizen apartments.
The groundbreaking ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Baxter Springs High School. Members of the Board of Education and students will make remarks.