OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas school district has completed the $17 million transformation of a megachurch into an educational complex.
The Hilltop Campus in Overland Park will be ready for class on Aug. 18, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday. The building now features a more kid-friendly atmosphere, including lower windows, smaller bathroom fixtures and color-coded floors so children won’t get lost.
“It’s such a large building it could be easy to feel as though a young child can get swallowed up,” said Kendall Burr, principal of the early childhood programs.
The Blue Valley School District bought the 125,000-square-foot First Family Church for $9 million in 2012 after the property went into foreclosure. The building has grown 1,000 square feet since the district added a tornado shelter.
The 51-acre campus houses an early childhood learning center, a conference center and various programs. The learning center will serve about 1,000 families, especially those within the south and southwest area of the district.
Burr said the school system incorporated many aesthetic features into the large building to make children feel comfortable. Walls were painted with calming natural palettes, stars were affixed to ceilings and texture was added to walls.
“It’s a cozier feeling for the children,” teacher Stacy Fallucca said of her classroom. “It reminds me of home.”
Religious areas within the former church were also converted, including the sanctuary and baptismal. Al Hanna, deputy superintendent of administrative services, said the district wanted to be respectful of the space’s prior purpose so it donated the remaining religious items.