Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

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

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fayetteville High School Update

The Fayetteville School Board, at its meeting May 29, 2008, voted 6 to 1 to offer to sell its 40-acre high school campus to University of Arkansas for $59 million. The offer is for land and buildings, including the high school, administrative offices, and sports facilities. At a meeting last Friday, U of A officials responded with a counter offer of $50 million. Terms and conditions would still need to be worked out.

Of course, the amount is subject to much discussion. Whether it appears too high or too low depends on which side of the fence people interviewed are on. From the U of A side, some feel that even $50 million is too high, given that substantial remodeling and refitting of the building will be required. From the School Board’s point of view and that of Buildsmart (an organization which favors keeping Fayetteville HS in its current location), the offer seems low.

Another issue from the U of A point of view is where the money to pay for it will come from. Some oppose adding to student fees to finance the purchase.

A sale of this magnitude is the largest either the U of A or Fayetteville School Board has ever undertaken. An appraisal commissioned by the district has placed the value of the property at $61.28 million, while another commissioned by the university put the price at $56.4 million.

If and when the sale is accepted, Fayetteville School Board will have many more crucial items to face before a new high school is built. First is location and second is funding. (I should have said first is funding because without that, location won’t matter.)

A new high school (and land) will cost somewhere around $110 million and inflation drives up the price every day. Even with $50 million in hand, a millage increase (between 3 and 5 mills) will have to be approved by the voters and that’s tough to do in Fayetteville.

In April the Fayetteville High School Select Committee 2 recommended that a new high school be built on a 73-acre site they refer to as Morningside (701 E. Huntsville Road). The school board has authorized the superintendent to explore that purchase for $5 million.

The board will also have to decide whether to sell 100 acres it owns in the northwest section of the district since it has now been eliminated as the site of the new high school.

The whole responsibility of whether, where, when, and how to build a new high school is complex at best. There are so many what ifs ---

Will the U of A and the Fayetteville School Board be able to negotiate a price agreeable to both sides?

What if U of A buys and voters deny a millage increase?

How large a millage increase will be needed?

Stay tuned for further details.

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