Geary USD 475 has announced that the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation has approved a matching grant to build a new elementary school in place of Jefferson Elementary on Custer Hill at Fort Riley.
The new school, which will accommodate 390 students in grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, has a design concept like Fort Riley Elementary and will include six pre-kindergarten classrooms. The project will total $30 million to complete, with the OLDCC grant providing an 80% match.
Geary USD 475 held its 20% share since initiating the grant process in February of 2019, when USD 475 and Fort Riley met with the OLDCC staff to propose the new 81,000 square foot facility.
Jefferson Elementary was built in 1959 with additions in 1965 and 1990. The school was cited by a U.S. Department of Defense Conditions Assessment report for approaching the end of its useful life and placed on a priority list for renovation or replacement. A second report in 2017 cited all systems in the school were at or near the end of serviceable life.
A series of evaluations performed by OLDCC staff, accompanied by a site visit concurred, resulting in an invitation to submit a written proposal for replacement of the school.
A final decision was anticipated in the spring of 2020, but was delayed when Congress directed OLDCC to initiate its Defense Communities Investment Program, said David Wild, the USD 475 chief operations officer. "The pandemic then caused further delays." The project is now back on track.
The new school will be built on an 18-acre site, following the U.S. Army's energy, anti-terrorism and force protection standards, including a storm shelter. The total project, including design and construction, is estimated to take 23 months.
"Demolition of the existing school will start as early as Aug. 2021, "Wild stated. "Earthwork on the new school is scheduled to commence in the late fall or early winter of 2021.
The name of the new school will be determined by the USD 475 Board of Education along with Fort Riley officials.