Park Elementary School - Park HistoryPark is one of the oldest schools in Wichita. It received the name Park because of its location, as Ninth Street was originally known as Park Street. The first record of land being bought by the Board of Education was on June 25, 1883. Two lots on Court Street, later known as Main Street, were deeded to the Board of Education. On July 5, 1883, one lot on Church Street, now called Water Street, was also deeded to the Board. The abstract of this property shows it was part of the original Munger property. These three lots are obviously only a part of the original Park Elementary School site.
Board of Education minutes of April 1885 resolved that a building be erected on the grounds owned by the Board on North Main Street, and construction was completed that same year at a total cost of $10,500. Strong Hinman, who later served the Wichita schools as director of health and physical education, described the building as a two-story brick structure with three rooms on each floor. It had steam heat but outdoor wooden toilets. About 1900, an addition of four rooms was added, two up and two down. Board of Education minutes of November 4, 1901 reported an addition to Park complete. Mr. Hinman said he had started first grade in 1900 and had completed the eighth grade in 1908, all in that building. He remembered Elizabeth Knight as principal.
Mrs. Paul Peters, whose maiden name was Zella Roberts, attended Park School from 1919 to 1926. She described the old building in much the same manner as Mr. Hinman. She had pleasant memories of the large bell on top of the building and the tower in which it was mounted. She also remembered a wooden building used for coal storage on the north side of the grounds. This building had the appearance of a school building. This verifies a story told earlier by an older lady who visited the school one day. She was looking around with nostalgic memories of her school days in Park and of the community and the changes that had occured since that time. She stated the old wooden building had preceeded the brick building erected in 1885 and faced Main Street.
Thus, the present building, which was erected in 1921, is probably the third school on the site. At the time of its construction, this building had 14 classrooms and an auditorium. In 1955, the back of the auditorium was partitioned into a classroom, and in 1961, the rest of the auditorium was made into a classroom and library.
In the 1963-64 school year, Park School enrollment averaged about 470 pupils. This crowded the capacity of the building and was due to the fact that Emerson School had been closed at the end of the previous term and most of the children in that area had been assigned to Park. Twelve years later, due to changes in housing patterns, the enrollment averaged about 200. Much of the area has changed from one of the elite sections of Wichita back in the early history of the city to commercial property and low-cost apartments. The housing pattern also contributes largely to the high percentage of pupil mobility in the school.
In 1989-90, Park became part of the Horace Mann Foreign Language Elementary Magnet School complex, housing grades K-2 and administrered by the principal at Horace Mann and the site administrator, an assistant principal. The site administrator was designated principal in 1995.
In April 2000, the voters of the Wichita School District approved a $284.5 million bond issue. The projects began in the fall of 2000 and were completed over the next five years. The plan built 19 multipurpose rooms, upgraded science labs, replaced portable classrooms with permanent construction, improved handicap accessibility to all buildings, rebuilt five existing elementary schools, added a new elementary and middle school, expanded seven other elementary schools and provided nine new libraries as well as the expansion of nine others. Building infrastructure in 82 buildings was also upgraded, including the replacement of antiquated plumbing, updates and expansion of electrical systems, replacement of inefficient or broken windows and doors, upgrades of heating and cooling systems, and asbestos abatement when required.
The district authorized an agreement with architects Jeff Krehbiel & Associates for Park's Bond issue improvements. Caro Construction Co. was contracted to complete the addition and renovation. With this, Park received an addition including a multipurpose room, kitchen, library and seven classrooms. Renovations were also made to other classrooms and the student support area.
In January 2001, FEMA announced a grant providing $444,762 to help construct safe rooms at Park and various schools throughout the district.
The Bond project dedication ceremony was held September 19, 2002