OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The demolition of an old elementary school is scheduled to take place in just a few weeks, but it could be delayed if Shawnee Mission School District leaders vote to postpone the project amid protests from parents.
The decision to make any changes could be announced as soon as Tuesday, when SMSD leaders privately meet with contractors and several other stakeholders to talk about options for tearing down the old Trailwood Elementary School.
An asbestos abatement and demolition was initially scheduled for Jan. 27, but the plan has drawn criticism from hundreds of parents who worry their children could be exposed to harmful contaminants considering the old school is adjacent to the new one.
“I'd like to take the last 10 seconds for a moment of silence for every child that might be buried because of your mistake!” parent Randy Fikki said to school board members during the public comment of a Dec. 19 meeting.
Fikki was just one of dozens of passionate parents who filled the board meeting to share their concerns.
“The Trailwood community is really involved,” said mom Alison Hirons, “and so to see parents step up and get involved with this isn`t a surprise to me.”
SMSD leaders reassured parents the demolition would be “low risk” but some parents still worried about potential long-term health effects.
“I want the demolition to be delayed,” Fikki said. “I think that I would have more peace of mind knowing that the amount of risk is lessened, and I would much rather have no risk than low risk.”
The plan has prompted more than 300 parents to sign a petition, asking the district to delay the demolition until summer vacation when their kids will be home.
“My ultimate hope is that they would delay the demolition, honestly,” said mom Sarah Wright.
Those parents could get their wish on Tuesday, when a handful of stakeholders, including the principal, PTA president, abatement company, contractors and environmental experts, meet to discuss a possible postponement.
A district representative told FOX 4 that parents aren't invited because it's a routine private construction meeting, not a public one – but they were encouraged to submit concerns to school leaders in advance.
“I feel that they`ll represent us well,” said Wright, “and hopefully get back with us on the best course of action.”
With most parents now putting their trust in the hands of school leaders to keep their kids safe.
“I think these people have done it long enough and this is their job,” mom Beth Gibbons said of the contractors. “And I believe that they have the interest of the kids, their safety, in mind.”
Jan. 27 was chosen for the old school's demolition so contractors would have time to do two things: pave a new parking lot and put up a new playground.
If postponed, parents worry those things might not be ready in time for the new school year in August.