For drivers approaching Inman Elementary School on Hudson Street, it may at first seem as if they’re building an entirely new school rather than simply expanding the old. Construction workers in hardhats walk up and down the heavy-equipment lined block, their outlines even more noticeable when they pass in front of the large, empty squares in the brick structure behind them that will one day soon serve as windows in an entirely new day care facility.
School district superintendent Kevin Case is excited to point out how the new will replace the old. He points to a smallish trailer a few yards away from the school.
“That’s our old day care,” Case said. “Our new one will be located in the building and will have over twice the space of this one.”
The Inman school renovations started in June 2012, when the district doubled the size of the high school parking lot, making more room for event attendees so fewer drivers would have to park along the street.
Since then the renovations and expansions have continued, with an Early Learning addition to the elementary school started in April and the renovation of an old gymnasium into a proper auditorium in the high school started in June.
The most dramatic work is at the elementary school, where an entire new wing called the Early Learning Addition is being built on the school’s north side. This wing will contain the new preschool facility and dual kindergarten rooms. Both are being constructed as saferooms to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.
Each saferoom is constructed of 12-inch concrete-filled blocks, and each section has rebar running through it top to bottom. In the end, it will have special metal doors that can be closed and locked across the windows, and metal doors with storm secure locks.
While on the topic of the saferooms, Case said the school district had applied for a FEMA grant to aid with construction costs.
“They didn’t have enough in their budget to help us out, though,” Case said, “but we already had the plans finalized and decided to go ahead and do it this way.”
Other rooms in this section will include a conference room, an office and a new set of bathrooms.
Out the far northern end of this wing-in-process will be an outdoor learning area with gardens and dirt and other nature-related elements for small children to interact and play with.
At the high school, Case said the large space being transformed into an auditorium had before been a combination gymnasium and auditorium with pull-out bench seating.
“We used to call these gymnatoriums,” Case said with a smile, “and my hope is that when people walk in they’ll never be able to guess that’s what it was. It’ll be very nice when it’s done.”
Page 2 of 2 - Construction is being handled by Bryant out of Wichita, K.D. Electric out of Inman, Buck Plumbing out of Hutchinson, and Mike Nevious of Hutchinson handles the brick masonry. The architect is Kelly McMurphy from Landmark Architects in Hutchinson.
Case expressed his gratitude for the Inman community’s support in making these school improvements possible.
“It’s going to be something useful, something for the community to be proud of,” Case said. “And, the bottom line is, it’ll be good for our kids.”
The work on both schools is expected to be finished up by January 2014.