MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Manhattan-Ogden Unified School District 383 (USD 383) in Kansas currently faces overcrowding in its elementary schools. Based on the district’s current calculations, the district’s population is predicted to increase from 5,850 students this year to 6,380 over the next five years. Those numbers are expected to rise as high as 8,360 in 20 years time. In an effort to be proactive about this issue, USD 383 has hired architectural firm BG Consultants in Manhattan to help the district create a long-term facilities plan.
BG Consultants predicted that Manhattan’s elementary schools will reach full capacity within the next 10 years, and as a result, has made recommendations for a five-, 10- and 20-year plan for the district — all of which include new facility construction to meet the growing population of the district, said Clint Hibbs, AIA, LEED AP at BG Consultants, according to KMAN Local News in Manhattan. The current recommended five-year plan is to build a new elementary school in Blue Township where the district already owns undeveloped land. Blue Township is one of the fastest-growing communities in the district, according to BG Consultants’ calculations, with the community’s students currently being bused to Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Manhattan.
Additional recommendations from BG Consultants include a middle school expansion to prepare for the incoming elementary students that the increasing population growth will certainly need. Further recommendation from the architectural firm include the demolition of all existing mobile and annex school facilities, expansion of safety measures for each school, the addition of dedicated gym space for each of the smaller elementary schools, and an increase in bus lanes and parking for all district schools. As part of the recommended 10-year plan, BG Consultants has recommended the construction of another elementary school on the west side of Manhattan, and if the population increases as predicted in 20 years time, the addition of a third middle school and second high school will also be needed.
All of these recommendations from BG Consultants are still under consideration by the school district board, and no decisions have yet been made, according to Eric Reid, USD 33 assistant superintendent.