Kansas City Christian looks to grow in place with renovation, expansion of Prairie Village school building

A rendering of the renovation concept for Kansas City Christian in Prairie Village.
A rendering of the renovation concept for Kansas City Christian in Prairie Village.

For years now, Kansas City Christian has been bursting at the seams, with enrollment high enough in some grade levels that it was forced to put prospective students on a wait list.

“We are out of space,” said Brent Vander Ark, chair of the KCC board. “For a few years now, we’d looked at a number of different options, but one of the things we came back to was how much we love our location, and how centrally located it was for our parents and students.”

So after years of deliberation, the school has embarked on a project to modernize it facilities at 79th Street and Roe Avenue and give it the capacity to accommodate demand for space in its classes. The school kicked off a private fundraising campaign earlier this summer, and will launch wider effort across the entire school community in mid-September. The goal is to raise $7.5 million for a construction project that would remake the building’s aging facade, add a partial second story across much of the structure, and incorporate updated amenities like a new cafeteria.

The expanded space would allow Kansas City Christian, which currently has K-12 enrollment of around 450, to accommodate 50 to 75 more students.

Moreover, Vander Ark said, the project will provide some certainty for not only the school community, but the surrounding neighborhood, which has fretted its possible departure.

“There was always this talk of ‘Are you moving? What’s the long term plan?'” he said. “We heard from people in the neighborhood who were worried that if we left, it would end up being a QT or something.”

The board has already submitted design plans to the city of Prairie Village for review, though the details of the project won’t be finalized until early next year, after the capital campaign has come to an end and budget projections are finalized. Vander Ark said the board is hoping to get 100 percent participation in its fundraising efforts from KCC families.

“We have a generous scholarship program here and a community with a lot of socioeconomic diversity,” he said. “There are some families where $100 would be a very significant, sacrificial gift. Others will be able to give more. What we’re looking for is 100 percent, affirmative participation as a way to show buy in from everyone.”

Assuming all goes according to plan, the school would break ground on the project as soon as school lets out next year, with the bulk of the most intensive work taking place over the summer. The project would continue into the 2018-19 school year, with some students likely shifting class spaces to accommodate the construction work for a couple of months.

A.L. Huber will be the general contractor on the project. Hollis + Miller is the architect.