The Wichita Public Schools mobile closed-circuit television station pulls up to a school in the late 1950s.
A South High School student runs camera for a televised lesson in 1961.
The School Service Center opens in 1975, providing a new home to many departments, including the Instructional Materials Center.
The move to the SSC provides IMC with enough space for a television studio to create educational and public relations programming.
In 1979, the district begins airing content on three public-access cable channels, channels 5, 7, and 9.
Library Media Services staff record a program for Schoolhouse 40, now known as WPS-TV.
Students learn about the control room the early 1990s.
A student learns how to run a studio camera in the early 2000s.
Professor Herbert and Professor Eisnwine teach 3rd-5th graders that math can be fun during Googolplex, which ran on the Wichita Public Schools cable channel for 18 years.
Shelly Salley, art teacher at East High School, smiles for the camera following recording of the very last production at the WPS-TV studio at the School Service Center on May 13, 2020.
From the Film Center to Media Production Services
In 1946, the Wichita Public Schools Film Center was established. The center housed a small collection, including 4 projectors and 24 films. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s the film collection grew to nearly 2,000 films. Staff in the Film Center also began producing audiotapes at this time. The department eventually became known as the Instructional Materials Center, and was housed at various locations across Wichita over the years.
In 1957, the Wichita Public Schools received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study whether it was economically and academically efficient to use television to educate young people. Four schools- Adams, Fairmount, Jefferson and Woodman- took part in the experiment, which partnered with local TV stations KTVH and KAKE. When these stations discontinued serving the schools, the district began using a closed-circuit television trailer that traveled from building to building. In the late 1950s, Superintendent Lawrence Shepoiser (1958-1968) suggested that the Board of Education should build its own educational television station. In the meantime, the Board voted to begin a program using television for large-class instruction at the newly constructed South High School.
In the early 1970s, the Board of Education approved the construction of the School Service Center at 3850 N. Hydraulic. This brand new building would house district services that had been spread across the city, including Plant Facilities, Musical Instrument Repair, Supply, Electronics, Library Technical Procedures, and more. The Instructional Materials Center, which had recently added videotaping and photography to its list of services, moved to the brand new building when it opened in February of 1975. This new location included a television studio to be used for educational video production. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s the Instructional Materials Center was responsible for organizing and distributing all educational films and audiotapes, and offered other services such as laminating, videotaping, transparency production, and audio production.
By 1979, Wichita was ready for cable television, and the district negotiated with Air Capital Cablevision for three public-access channels- channels 5, 7, and 9. The channels were used to air Board of Education meetings, public service announcements, public affairs programming, and more. Over the years, the channels moved across the dial, and for many years were located on 37, 39 and 40. Channel 37 was used for satellite programming such as NASA and Classic Arts Showcase; channel 39 was for staff development; and channel 40, also known as Schoolhouse 40, was used for promotional programming.
In the mid-1980s, the Instructional Materials Center became Library Media Services. A part of the curriculum division, LMS was responsible for district libraries and library collections, educational multimedia, video and audio production, and cable channels. In 1999, the production and cable channel portions of LMS became a part of the Marketing and Communications division (now Strategic Communications) and became known as Media Production Services, while management of the libraries and educational materials remained with Library Media Services. Though the departments that were once a part of the Instructional Materials Center are now two separate entities, staff members continue to work together on projects such as the yearly Battle of the Books competition.
In the early 2000s the Wichita Public Schools’ cable channels moved to channels 17, 20 and 21. Today, the district operates one cable channel, WPS-TV, which airs within Wichita on Cox Cable channel 20. The channel can also be viewed through Livestream on the district website, while much of the channels content is also available on YouTube.
In June of 2020, Media Productions moved from the studio at the School Service Center to a new studio at the Alvin Morris Admnistartive Center, or AMAC. This allowed staff to work more closely with the rest of Strategic Communications already based at AMAC, and made room for additional work space for other departments at SSC. The studio at the School Service Center served the district well for 45 years, with the final production being an art demonstration as part of the video series WPS Learn Together, which featured art, music, P.E. and library media teachers sharing ways to keep students learning during the shut down of schools due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The current WPS-TV studio is located at AMAC, which was originally built as Southeast High School in 1957. The building became home to AMAC after the school's move to a new building at 127th and Pawnee in 2015. The studio is located in what was once the school's ceramics classroom, but is now an updated television studio ready to meet the needs of the Wichita Public Schools heading into the future.
Media Production Services staff members strive to promote the positive news stories happening in and around the Wichita Public Schools. We maintain the district cable channel, create safety and training videos, help school staff promote their schools and programs through video projects, assist school video production classes, document all Board of Education meetings, and more. We are proud of our role in the Wichita Public Schools!