OLDCC approves new Fort Riley elementary school

FORT RILEY, Kan. — The Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) approved a matching grant on Monday to build a new elementary school in place of Jefferson Elementary on Custer Hill in Fort Riley.

The new school, which will accommodate 390 students grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, has a design concept like Fort Riley Elementary and will include six pre-kindergarten classrooms. The project will total $30 million to complete, with the OLDCC grant providing an 80% match.

Geary County Schools USD 475 held its 20% share since initiating the grant process in February of 2019, when district personnel, accompanied by then-Fort Riley Deputy Garrison Commander Tim Livsey and Director of Fort Riley Public Works Jeff Williamson, met with OLDCC staff to propose the new, 81,000 square foot facility.

This came after Jefferson, which was built in 1959 with additions taking place in 1965 and 1990, was cited by a United States Department of Defense Conditions Assessment report for approaching the end of its useful life and was placed on a priority list for renovation or replacement. A second report in 2017 cited all systems in the school were at or near the end of serviceable life.

A series of evaluations performed by OLDCC staff, accompanied by a site visit, concurred, resulting in an invitation to submit a written proposal for the replacement of the school.

“We anticipate a final decision this time last year, but it was delayed due to Congress directing OLDCC to initiate its Defense Communities Investment Program (DCIP),” said David Wild, the district’s chief operations officer. “The pandemic then caused further delays.”

Two OLDCC staff members were released from the DCIP and returned to the schools’ program in November of 2020, including David Jones, the project manager for Jefferson.

“David [Jones] was able to get the initiative back on track. We updated the district proposal and it passed through final technical reviews,” Mr. Wild said. “We then received an invitation to upload data to the old OLDCC web portal, which was completed over Christmas break.”

The new school will be constructed on the 18-acre site, following the United States Army’s energy, anti-terrorism, and force protection standards, including a storm shelter. The total project, including design and construction, is estimated to take 23 months.

“Demolition of the existing school will start as early as August 2021,” Mr. Wild said. “Earthwork on the new school is scheduled to commence in the late fall or early winter of 2021.”

The name of the new school will be determined by the Geary County Schools USD 475 Board of Education, alongside Fort Riley officials.

For inquiries, please contact Lindley Lund, Marketing and Media Specialist for Geary County Schools USD 475, at lindleylund@usd475.org.