On Monday, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was approved between the city and Shawnee Public Schools.

Washington School may soon only be found in the memories of its former students — the site is being eyed for demolition.

On Monday, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was approved between the city and Shawnee Public Schools.

With multiple planned school improvements after last year's $32 million bond issue, the city and the school district are facing many decisions that affect the community.

City Manager Justin Erickson said school sites are an integral part of the community, support neighborhood stability, and also provide recreational opportunities and green space.

“One recent example of this is the new Avedis Park immediately south of Shawnee Middle School, which will be open to the community,” he said.

The City participated in this project and installed a sidewalk to the site from MacArthur Street, he said, “thanks to generous funding from the Avedis Foundation.”

He said the MOU is an attempt to formalize the collective efforts of both parties and address recreational, permitting, and demolition matters that routinely arise.

“This endeavor speaks to further collaborative efforts between the city and the schools,” City Manager Justin Erickson said. “There has been a long history of collaboration dating back to the inception of both entities.”

Several school sites, historically (were), and some today — Washington School and the Administration Building — (are) on property owned by the city, he said.

“In working with the school district on some of their expansion plans and new school sites, we recognize that we need to formalize our collaborative efforts,” he said.

The MOU provides that the city will work with the public schools system to ensure that all public improvements are coordinated and have good-faith effort to discuss those projects and plans with the city, Erickson said.

“It calls for jointly funding maintenance and resurfacing of the high school tennis courts, which we already do under a separate agreement,” he said. “It's been a joint effort for a number of years.”

The city has expertise from a number of demolition projects and will assist the school district.

“We will assist the school if and when they determine that any schools need to be demolished,” he said. “No one has made that determination, at present.”

The district will agree to demolish Washington School at the formal request by the city.

“There's been some discussion,” he said, “but, at this time, there is no written request to demolish Washington. In the coming months staff will go through some of the challenges — cost estimates of rehabilitating the building — and I will bring something back to the commission for formal action regarding that building specifically,” he said.

Acceptance and approval of the memorandum does not automatically cause the demolition of any school, he said.

The MOU provides for the following stipulations:

The City of Shawnee shall:

• Waive all City fees related to: building permits and inspections, land use applications, and engineering review. Shawnee Public Schools agrees to pay for direct costs associated with required public notices and applicable utility fees.

• Work collaboratively with Shawnee Public Schools on all major public improvement projects located adjacent or near existing or proposed education sites to ensure compatibility with the desires and plans of Shawnee Public Schools.

• Allocate money regularly to jointly fund the maintenance and resurfacing of the High School Tennis Courts.

• Assist as requested with the demolition of school facilities deemed surplus to include the coordination/letting of demolition bids and the evaluation and remediation of asbestos.

Shawnee Public Schools shall:

• Donate necessary right-of-way for roadway and sidewalk/trail improvements after consultation by the City and a good-faith effort by the City to address any concerns expressed by Shawnee Public Schools.

• Make a good-faith effort to facilitate use of

recreational resources by the general public when not in official use. This includes, but is not limited to, the High School Tennis Courts, Middle School Avedis Park and the outside play areas at elementary school sites.

• Demolish the Washington School building adjacent to the Shawnee Community Center at the formal written request of the City of Shawnee.

Erickson said the MOU was considered and approved by the Shawnee School Board April 7.

The expected budgetary impact is minimal, he said. “Although the city will waive all permitting fees, Shawnee Public Schools is committing to collaborating with the city in other ways that will limit city expenditures and provide substantial public benefits,” he said.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.