Members of the Geary County USD 475 school board appear to have two sites in mind for a proposed early childhood development center.
The idea is being proposed to help make the district more appealing to service members at Fort Riley and help grow the district’s reach. Having narrowed its options from 11 potential sites, board members on Monday debated the idea of constructing a facility on the former Junction City High School property versus building a new facility north of the new Junction City High School, on the city’s western edge.  USD 475 Construction Program Manager David Wild…
      1005-Wild 1

Building on the old high school site, wouldn’t cost the district anything since it owns the property outright, though it has attempted to sell the property to the city for $1, on a pair of occasions this year. The offer was rejected by the city recently since the district added a contingency to waive building and permit fees on all future projects. Board member Jason Butler says the better option is to build north of the new high school, even with its $2.6 million dollar estimated price tag.
      1005-Butler 1

Board member Anwar Khoury favors using the old high school site.

      1005-Khoury 1

PowerPoint slide showing site options the district has been looking at. The four highlighted in yellow have emerged as the best options moving forward. The school board Monday only debated option 1 and 4. (Screenshot)

Staff also favor using the site since it’s already in the district’s possession. Wild says it’s imperative the board ultimately make a decision soon as it looks also toward applying for a federal Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program (DCIP). Those projects must be construction-ready within 12 months of an award being granted.

      1005-Wild 2

But others, including board member Mark Hatcher believe the district should hold true on its promise to sell the property to the city, despite the disagreements by the two entities.

      1005-Hatcher 1

Board member Butler says the board shouldn’t be held up by what the city wants to do.

      1005-Butler 2

The Junction City Library is also eyeing a portion of the former high school property to construct a new library. The city, if it acquires the property has floated the idea of the site becoming home to a new sports complex and aquatic center.

City and USD 475 staff are planning to revisit negotiations on terms of the sale agreement Oct. 17.

A special board meeting is also planned Oct. 27 to both continue the early childhood development center discussion and to finish up executive sessions not completed at Monday’s meeting.