WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – More than a year, that is how long Newton’s 5th and 6th graders have been without a working gym. This is due to a 2021 storm that damaged Lindley Hall.

The district is hoping to pass an $8.4 million bond project to fix the issues at Lindley Hall and Santa Fe Center.

In June 2021, high winds from a storm tore off bricks on the front of Lindley Hall. This made the district question the safety of the nearly 90-year-old building.

“Bricks do not normally fall down just due to wind issues,” said Newton Public Schools Superintendent Fred Van Ranken.

Van Ranken said Lindley Hall is the only location for these 5th and 6th graders to have large group gatherings such as assemblies or a music concert or gym, but kids have been unable to use the building since the storm due to engineers deeming it unsafe.

“If the walls do blow out and fall, you know more than likely the trusses will come straight down, and anybody that is going to be on the gym floor will survive more than likely, so when you hear that as a superintendent or board member you know we are not letting kids into that building,” said Van Ranken.

For over a year now, students either take their 40-minute gym class at a nearby park or are bussed to the Newton Recreation Commission, leaving little time for a full class.

“We bus kids back and forth. You maybe got 20-25 minutes of real-time,” said Van Ranken.

Van Ranken said it is an inconvenience for students, and they hope this bond project will fix the issues engineers and architects found.

The district said renovating the building is the best option because it would cost more to build a new gym.

If the bond issue passes, they are hoping to have the repairs finished by next August. The district is holding one more public information meeting about the bond at the end of October.

You can learn more about the bond project here.