Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

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

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board – Again – for Fayetteville High School

The voters of Fayetteville School District spoke clearly and loudly about the proposed 4.9 mil increase in their property taxes to build a new high school. The answer was a resounding NO!

Two huge factors unquestionably influenced the vote – the overall expense and calling for the election at a time when many people were already struggling to provide for their families.

I believe the large majority of residents agree that an updated facility is needed. So, it’s back to the drawing board for the school board. It took four years to reach the current point. How many more years for the next plan is anyone’s guess.

A few things to consider (or re-consider) based on some of the issues already on the table:

1. Reconsider the decision to add 9th graders to high school. Building a new high school for only grades 10-12 means a smaller, less costly school.

2. Reconsider the decision to demolish the 1991 addition because it’s “too old” to blend with new construction. It’s only 18 years old and it’s possible taxpayers are still paying for it. Several more millions of dollars saved. It could be that the most cost-effective solution is remodeling the current high school totally and making additions as necessary to accommodate future growth.

3. Reconsider remodeling the existing site and building a second high school on property the district already owns. In that case, I would divide the two schools by grade rather than by the part of town that students come from. This might bring the 9th grade back into the equation if one HS is for 9-10 grade and the “new” HS is for 11-12 grade (or vice versa). Creating two 4-year high schools in different parts of town could have unintended consequences as happened in Springdale, where a sort of “classist” divide has arisen between the old HS and the new Harber High, which has even affected property values in different parts of Springdale. This, despite the fact that the old Springdale High has been remodeled and has some innovative programs that the new Harber High doesn’t have.

4. Actually, while back at the drawing board, reconsider the decision to build a new school at the existing site. One of several reasons I heard for doing so was the nostalgia factor. Something like, “That’s where I went to school and we should keep the high school here.” I don’t understand that rationale. If all the buildings are demolished and a new school is constructed on that site, everything tangible – including the murals that many art students created over the years and which give the current HS a link to the past – is lost. All that’s left for fond memories is the dirt the school was built on.

As I’ve written previously, there are many valid justifications to build a new high school (or even a second high school or even just remodeling the existing school). Now that the millage proposal has failed, the school board must rethink their previous decisions, open the process to the people again because folks have learned much more about this issue than they knew even a few months ago, and move forward with an affordable plan. It can be done.

For more information:


No comments: