Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Future of Fayetteville H.S.--Public Meeting

A Public Engagement Meeting with the Fayetteville High School Select Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26th to discuss the future location of FHS. This meeting will be held at the Ramay Junior High Cafeteria at 6:30 p.m.

The Future of Fayetteville High School is an important issue in our community, so please come out and express your opinion.

If you would like more information about this issue you can go to the Future of FHS website at:



Almost a year has passed since the Fayetteville School Board voted to remain a one high school district and add grade 9 to the mix. At that time the big question was where would that one school be located. Should the existing site be renovated and enlarged? Should a brand new school be built elsewhere? If elsewhere, just where would that be?

Fast forward to 2008. It seems the questions are exactly as they were. But the options have been narrowed down some. Two potential sites for a new school have been eliminated: a parcel south of 15th St. off Morningside Drive because of large areas of flood plain on the site as well as a sewer line through it, and a 94-acre parcel south of the Cliffs Apartments off Crossover Road because the owner of about 1/3 of the tract is not interested in selling.

As of now three sites remain in contention: the property north of 15th Street and south of Huntsville Road on Morningside Drive; a property the district already owns on Deane Solomon Road; and the current high school location.

A committee consisting of citizens, teachers, and students has been appointed to study the question of location. It is scheduled to make its recommendations to the board in April 2008. In addition to answering the big question, it has also been charged with determining at what point the new or improved high school should open.

But it’s not just question of building a new school or enlarging the old one. One problem has to do with streets to access the school. No matter which site is selected, the school district will also have to contribute to improving roadways for access to the school.

Members of the committee met with City of Fayetteville officials on March 12 to discuss what improvements would be necessary and a timetable for the improvements. According to Tim Conklin, city planner, it costs between $1 million and $1.3 million per lane mile to widen a two-lane road to a four-lane road. Additional challenges for the streets around the current site include the fact that they are narrow and wind through residential neighborhoods.

A second problem is the question of whether the University of Arkansas would buy the existing high school. The school board needs to know if U of A is serious about purchasing the property, and if so, how much would they pay. In my mind, it seems like a logical choice for the university. There is no other contiguous land available to enlarge the university campus.

But here’s the catch. The school board doesn’t yet know if it wants to sell the property and the university either doesn’t know if it wants it or won’t commit to buying it until the school board makes a decision.

Then there’s the question, again, of what size high school is necessary. If a new school is built, how many students should it accommodate? The growth rate in Fayetteville school district is currently negligible. In fall 2000, there were 2,474 students in grades 9-12. According to the most recent figures I saw, there are only 37 more students now – which is seven years later.

At that rate, it would take many years before capacity would be reached in a school for 3,000 students. Even more astounding is the statement that it would take 50 years to reach capacity if the school is built for 3,200 students!

Finally, the issue has polarized the community. Two grass roots organizations have formed, Build Smart (supports keeping the high school at the current location and opposes selling the current site to the University) and Fayetteville Students First (favors a high school at a new location, selling the current site and using the money for a down payment on the new school). Both groups are collecting signatures on petitions in support of their respective positions.

So it’s obvious there is a monumental amount of work to be done before many crucial decisions are made. There is one certainty, however. There will probably be a tax increase to fund whichever option is finally chosen. It behooves everyone to become informed. I cannot think of anything more important to a community than the quality of its education system.

For more information:


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