There’s a new school building in town, and some students will get to use it sparingly. The new, 70,000-square-foot Shawnee Mission School District building hosts office space for administrators.
The Center for Academic Achievement, located at 8200 W. 71st. Street, cost taxpayers $32 million, but good luck finding that detail in any of the news coverage. Instead, media is awed by the 54 private office spaces, three conference rooms, seven phone rooms and collaborative work spaces.
The good news is the center makes a passing nod to students. Approximately 200 students, or less than 1 percent of the student body, are bussed there from other schools to use space for special programs like animation and game, engineering, and a medical health services programs. The gleaming glass building also features the Broadmoor Bistro, a full-service restaurant staffed by students in the culinary and baking programs.
The less than 1 percent of students who get to use the building should feel lucky. The facility also features a fitness center, “To meet your needs and goals for a healthier lifestyle,” the school district website boasts. “…The center is staffed with qualified fitness professionals trained in exercise instruction and programming.” The staff provides physical assessments, personalized exercise programs, and group exercise classes. Unfortunately, the general public that funded it and the children for whom it was built aren’t allowed admission unless they are the dependents of school district employees and retirees. (Students will be allowed to use the district’s $28 million aquatic center, set to open next year. So there’s that.)
Shawnee Mission City Council members are awed by the administration building’s energy efficiency. Jim Neighbor told the Shawnee Mission Dispatch saving energy–as opposed to money–was what excited him most about the project, which features a rain garden and a living wall of herbs.
“We can’t continue to burn coal and ruin the atmosphere,” he said. “We need more buildings like this one.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Topeka are trying to decipher how on earth they’ll inject another $2 billion into public schools, which claim they’ve been put on a harsh budgetary diet. In the Shawnee Mission School District, it’s clearly a budget diet of caviar and grass-fed Wagyu steaks. For the children, of course.