Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Monday, July 24, 2006

New High Schools in NW Arkansas

Springdale School District opened a second high school, Har-Ber High School, last year and drew new attendance boundary lines. It is a top-notch facility and one which the students, faculty and taxpayers can be justly proud. Another new high school is in the works for the east side of town.

Bentonville has already built a new high school to replace its older school and is studying future needs to keep up with growth in the district. It, too, is a first-class school.

Rogers has a new high school and is already planning another.

Prairie Grove just completed its inaugural year in a new high school after turning the older one into a middle school.

In Lincoln, city council and school district officials are studying the possibility of building a combined facility. As far as I know, that idea is new to NW Arkansas and might make a lot of sense in a small city such as Lincoln. For instance, they could reduce construction costs and save money sharing meeting rooms, maintenance and janitorial staff, etc. It’s a concept that certainly deserves study.

Farmington School District will ask voters in September to approve a 3.55 millage increase to build a new elementary school and purchase land for a new high school to be built in the future. If the measure passes, Farmington School District’s millage rate will rise to 43.85 mills - one of the highest tax rates in NW Arkansas. (Fayetteville’s millage rate is currently 43.80.)
For some months now, the Fayetteville School Board has been discussing how to keep up with growth.

Fayetteville High School had approximately 2000 students in 2005-06. Room exists to squeeze in an additional 400-500 students – but that would be far from ideal. Some programs are already squeezed past limits and the cafeteria is much too small.

The board has to decide whether to build a new high school to replace the old one, or do as Springdale did, and build a second one and continue using the existing high school. There is much to consider. Certainly cost and location are near the top of the list but education of the students must be the highest priority.

If the decision is two high schools, emotions enter the picture. Who will get to go to the new school and who must remain at the old facility? Will the quality of the education be equal? Will the value of real estate increase near a new school while values decrease around the closed high school?

In 2005 the district purchased 79 acres of land in northwest Fayetteville and is considering buying an adjacent 22 acres. Apparently, the rule of thumb these days calls for 100 acres to build a first-class high school and associated facilities.

There have been comments about the distance from downtown Fayetteville and more southern parts of the city, but even if 100 acres could be found close in, the cost would be prohibitive.
New schools are expensive. Some estimates put the cost of a new high school at $50 million. I don’t see how a new school can be built without a millage increase but Fayetteville voters have a recent history of defeating bond elections.

Fayetteville school officials are interested in hearing from citizens. Input is needed. It will probably be five years before construction begins. That sounds like a long time but formulating plans and raising money takes time.

I recommend staying informed and getting involved in the process. Go to meetings and help formulate intelligent decisions. The future of Fayetteville is at stake.

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