Briarwood Elementary is leading candidate for a school rebuild in the SM East area

Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson speaking to the SM East PTA this morning.
Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson speaking to the SM East PTA this morning.

Briarwood Elementary and Tomahawk Elementary are the two schools in the SM East footprint being considered for reconstruction, Shawnee Mission superintendent Jim Hinson said Friday.

Hinson was the featured speaker at the first SM East PTA meeting of the school year, and spent the bulk of his remarks discussing the facilities review and recommendations report expected to be brought before the school board in September.

The district had previously announced that it intends to recommend a teardown-rebuild process for one elementary in each of the district’s five high school feeder footprints, but no specific candidate schools had been identified.

“Briarwood is where we are seeing the most growth, so it is the leading candidate at this point,” Hinson said of the discussion over which SM East area school might be rebuilt. He also said that Crestview Elementary is the school that will be recommended for reconstruction in the SM North feeder area.

The teardown-reconstruction process generally takes two school years to complete, Hinson said. Depending on the school site, students either attend school in the existing building while the new facility is being built or they attend another school until their new building is complete.

Hinson also said that the district was keeping a close eye on what a series of recently announced apartment construction projects in northeast Johnson County will do to school enrollment in the area. Approximately 230 apartment units have been approved for a development at 80th and Metcalf in the Tomahawk Elementary feeder area, and another 100 apartments have been approved for Westwood in the Westwood View feeder pattern. Hinson noted that the “Vision Metcalf” redevelopment concept calls for the addition of more then 900 apartment units.

“We are keeping a very close eye on these developments and what they mean for enrollment,” he said. “We’ve found that a lot of parents, when their kids move out of the house, they sell their house and move into these nicer apartments. And when they sell the house it goes to a young family with kids and that leads to some of the regreening.”

Hinson also said the district was taking a serious look at whether to build a state-of-the-art aquatics facility that would be suitable for hosting major swimming competitions. Such a facility doesn’t exist anywhere in Johnson County at this point, he said — and the district’s swimming facilities are badly dated.

“Our pools are not appropriate and up to the standard we need for our students,” he said.

Asked what locations the district was considering for such a swimming facility, Hinson said SM South was the only candidate.

“It is the only site where we have the available space we need and access to the parking we’d need,” he said.