Bond passes to make repairs to Historic Lindley Hall

Most students at NHS went to fifth and sixth grades at Santa Fe ⅚ Center. Santa Fe is where most students get to meet the people they are going to graduate with. According to Statesmen Journal, most elementary-aged students said physical education was their favorite part of school. Unfortunately, students at Santa Fe do not have the same opportunities that the students at NHS once had. Students at Santa Fe now have to ride a bus to the Newton Recreational Center to have PE. This severely cuts into the students’ PE time.

Back in June of 2021, a wind storm tore bricks off the outside of Santa Fe’s Historic Lindley Hall gymnasium. Lindley Hall was built in 1934 and was once recognized as the best-lighted gym and playing court in Kansas. Newton Public Schools had several professionals such as architects, engineers and construction workers survey the school and determine that the building had decades of deferred maintenance, according to Director of Communications Carly Stavola.

“The existing masonry wall, wood trusses and foundation were firm, but tuckpoint and stabilization services were needed to seal up the bricks,” Stavola said. “Our construction management at-risk company is going to reconstruct and stabilize the exterior wall. They will provide tuckpoint and stabilization services to seal the brick exterior. They will get the building up to ADA and code compliance and they will create a flex-education space in the old wrestling room.”

USD 373 Board of Education made a plan to get a bond put on the Nov. 8 general ballot. The BOE knew they had to be careful with how people’s tax dollars were going to be spent on the bond due to having two other bonds in 2017 and 2018 that the community had ultimately decided against, Stavola said.

“If we could, we would attempt a much larger bond to fix HVAC problems at the high school as well as other things needed across the district, but we had to have a hard look at how people have voted in the past,” Stavola said. “We needed a solution quickly that would get Santa Fe kids back into an on-site gymnasium.”

The school district held several town hall meetings for members of the community to come and learn more about the bond. On Nov. 8 the bond passed by almost 73 percent, according to Stavola. Before the repairs are made, architects and construction workers have to go through the design phase, which will take several months. Their goal is to have the gym done by August 2023 for the students next school year.

The BOE would like to make repairs to the rest of the school in the district, including NHS Satvola said. Unfortunately, they can not make the repairs as of now due to the major repairs that are needed for Santa Fe. Superintendent Fred VanRanken said that the main issues with the schools is the HVAC which is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

“The interior classroom space [at the high school] needs to be addressed, especially in areas like the science department. Many of those classrooms are not structured very efficiently for science rooms. For example, some are triangular-shaped where the direct instruction area is just not real conducive to learning,” VanRanken said.

VanRanken said all the different repairs that are needed for the other schools will take time and extensive evaluation. There are many steps that will come prior to another bond.

“Some buildings just need updating in areas that are small on the surface, but costly when considered in the whole,” VanRanken said.