Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Cheney School District presents proposed Sunset Elementary expansion


The city of Airway Heights got a possible glimpse into the future of Sunset Elementary in regards to its structure.

At the City Council’s June 9 study session, officials from Cheney School District presented a plan created by NAC Architecture to expand Sunset.

Associate superintendent Sean Dotson said the expansion is one way to help accommodate the potential population growth within Airway Heights.

The expansion would add 11 classrooms along with the Chas Clinic inside of the building. There would also be a second gym for physical education classes.

“Sunset’s current gym is used for the cafeteria, classes and assemblies and this creates a conflict in scheduling,” Dotson said.

Dotson said the old gym would be turned into a multi-purpose space, but could pick up additional PE classes as needed.

On the outside of Sunset, there would be additional parking replacing the current portables. There would be a separate bus entrance at King Street while Lawson Street would be used as a drop off area. The playground would be behind the school, which Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens said “would be safer for kids.”

Dotson said there would be a need for additional classrooms on the south side of the freeway in 10 years if the number of students continues to grow on projection.

Clemens said the district has also been looking at possibly building a skills center in Airway Heights used by students who live in the West Plains.

“With aerospace programming that’s expanded in this immediate region, we have employers that are looking for that next generation of employees,” Clemens said.

Clemens added they are looking at Career and Technical Education programing that would fit within to the city’s business community.

“I know the city is considering building a community facility at some point in the near future,” Clemens said. “If we could add a couple of classrooms in there, the district could provide the computers and staff to provide on-site programming, it could truly benefit people who live in this community.”

Clemens said the district has also aggressively pursued grants to provide after-school programing for the students at Sunset, as well as Westwood Middle School.

“We’re committed to not only provide what the state has provided during the school day, but also bringing resources into the community,” Clemens said.

Deputy mayor Kevin Richey said he was happy to see the school district looking to expand Sunset.

Clemens also presented the plan for the Cheney High School expansion. Councilman Doyle Inman asked about building another high school north of the highway.

Clemens said voters would have to be willing to pay for construction of a new high school after they’ve already “made an investment in Cheney.” She said expanding the high school would meet the enrollment growth and increase the opportunities for specialty programs that the school could not provide in the past.

Dotson added the student population at Cheney High School is not big enough to where they could fill two schools and still have quality programs.

Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said he understands the restrictions placed on the district and that he would like to move forward on the skill center.

Clemens said once the high school is finished, the district would begin looking at expanding Sunset.

In addition to the expansion and skill center, Clemens presented improvement projects for schools that would be happening over the summer. For Sunset, the district will be improving the playfield and adding more fencing. It will also be adding a new reader board and a curtain in the gym.

Clemens added that several elementary schools would be getting exterior siding replacements, carpet replacement and parking lot resurfacing.

Al Stover can be reached at

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