How we have changed...
Mary Kelly Elementary School came into existence in 1954 as a result of the growth of Wichita in the southwest area of the city. From 1954 to 1957, the school operated completely with the use of portables. In these three years the enrollment jumped from a bare beginning of 183 students to 700 students. At one time, 21 portables constituted Kelly School.
In 1957, the first permanent classrooms were constructed. The new building was dedicated November 10, 1957 during American Education Week. The building consisted of 14 classrooms and, with the use of existing portables, enrollment climbed to a high of 961 in 1962.
With enrollment trends increasing, a permanent addition was added in 1962. The addition was a uniquely new concept of construction for Wichita Public Schools. The 14 new classrooms were contained in a circular building which was heated electrically. Another new concept was the four-unit library located in the hub of the 22,000 square foot wheel. The addition was opened for the 1962-63 school year, and due to boundary changes in the area, enrollment leveled off to average around the 900 level. As the area has grown older and the sixth graders moved to middle school, the enrollment averages around 350.
The school was named for Mary Kelly, the sister of J.C. Kelly of the Wheeler-Kelly-Hagny Investment Company of Wichita. Mary Kelly taught mathematics in Wichita Public Schools for 47 years. Her first assignment in 1892 was at Irving Elementary School where she taught for nine years. She then spent one year at the old high school, now WATC Central Campus, before becoming head of the mathematics department at the new Wichita High School East where she remained until retirement in 1939.
At the beginning of the 1988-89 year, sixth grade students were incorporated into the middle school program, leaving a K-5 enrollment of around 350.
On February 12, 1996, the Board of Education unanimously approved changing the name of Kelly Elementary School to Kelly Elementary Liberal Arts Academy.
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.
In January 2001, FEMA announced a grant providing $444,762 to help construct safe rooms at Kelly and various schools throughout the district.
The district worked with architectural firm Gossen Livingston Associates, Inc. to design the addition and renovations. Construction company, Simpson and Associates, completed the Bond project. Kelly received a new addition including a multipurpose room, kitchen and five classrooms. Renovations were also made to the library, computer and student support areas.
The Bond project dedication ceremony was held April 16, 2003.