By Dawn Bormann Novascone
Shawnee Mission isn’t the only district that will be building a new elementary school in Lenexa.
The Lenexa City Council unanimously approved preliminary plans to build the Olathe School District’s 36th elementary school near 97th Terrace and McCormack Drive.
If it receives final approval, it will be the second school in a few short years for Lenexa. The Shawnee Mission School District is also set to open Lenexa Hills Elementary at 87th Street and Haven next fall.
Olathe School District officials said the proposed one-story school, which hasn’t been named, is expected to open in the fall of 2019 with about 300 students. The 70,520 square foot facility could house a maximum of 600 students. The district expects to employ about 50 staff members.
The school includes a high-wind, storm shelter that will be constructed in the gymnasium. It will also be designed around project-based learning and have some unique features including a maker space, learning stairs and more collaborative spaces, said Olathe School District Spokeswoman Maggie Kolb.
The school is not likely to be named or have designated boundaries until late next year. However the school will provide direct relief to crowding at Cedar Creek Elementary, said Travis Palangi, a design and construction manager for Olathe Schools.
It will sit near the Canyon Creek Highlands subdivision. The district expects a majority of the students to come from north of Kansas-10 and west of K-7. Cedar Creek is the district’s largest elementary, Palangi said.
“It’s a huge difference to not have to cross over and go to Cedar Creek. It’s nice to have that elementary school in the neighborhood,” said Councilwoman Stacy Knipp.
The preliminary plan calls for traffic to enter on 97th Terrace, which is a three-lane road in that area. The road, officials said, was built to handle additional traffic. As it stands, Gleason Road, which would border the eastern side of the school, has not been constructed. City officials made it clear that Gleason Road construction must factor into the school construction. It remained unclear this week who would shoulder the financial burden for the road.
As it stands, Gleason Road terminates at Prairie Star Parkway. City staff said the additional route was essential from a safety and traffic perspective.
“If for some reason 97th Terrace was blocked it may prevent emergency access to the entire eastern portion of the school. Any delay could be catastrophic. In addition to that, a traffic study indicates that 30% of the traffic would use Gleason Road. Without Gleason Road construction, the surrounding roadway would experience a significant increase in traffic. It suggests that Gleason Road be constructed to relieve the congestion in the neighborhood. Gleason Road would also allow another way out of the area,” according to the staff report.
The school would have two entry points and one exit point. The north side includes an entrance for buses and visitor parking while the west side would serve as a staff parking lot with pick-up and drop-off lines. The lines would use a double-stacked loop with enough room for 90 vehicles to circulate on and off the site for drop-off and dismissal, according to preliminary plans.
City officials said they are working with the school district to make sure enough sidewalks are being constructed in the surrounding neighborhoods to make sure students can safely walk to school.
Shawnee Mission announced plans to build a new elementary at the northwest corner of 87th Street and Haven Street as part of the facilities plan funded by its $223 million 2015 bond issue. Construction on that school will likely begin next year.