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Thanksgiving. The word itself just makes you feel good. I doubt any other word has as many positive associations as Thanksgiving. As you're reading this, I hope the sweet smells of baked goods, the scent of a turkey roasting in the oven and the warmth of family are already part of your day -- or soon will be.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Bentonville. We live in an involved community, with churches, service organizations and volunteer opportunities which young families are choosing to join and enrich. Our local economy is creating well-paying jobs. The value of our homes is increasing. All the communities in our district continuously work to improve the quality of life for residents.

Bentonville Public Schools not only benefit from these positive trends, but also, I believe, are one reason for them. Without an exceptional school system, Bentonville's population couldn't have grown more than 15 percent since 2010. Right now, five out of 10 families moving into Northwest Arkansas are choosing Bentonville schools.

We are thankful our district continues to perform at the highest levels in Northwest Arkansas. Bentonville Public Schools consistently perform similar to high-achieving school districts across the nation. Our students consistently meet or exceed proficiency standards on state assessments, and the professional educators who work in our district are recognized by professional organizations as examples of excellence in meeting the needs of students.

Our choral, orchestral and band students bring patrons to their feet at each performance and consistently garner awards in regional and national competitions. Theater and forensics students set the bar for other programs throughout the region and state. Our athletics programs are the only two-time winner of the national MaxPreps award for best athletic program. We should all be thankful for the opportunities our children have to succeed, excel and follow their passion.

While our district has many reasons to be thankful, today I'd like you to consider our financial situation. In 2010, taxpayers supported a millage increase to build three new schools -- Willowbrook Elementary, Brightfield Middle School, and Fulbright Junior High -- that all came in on time, under budget and with enhanced mechanical systems to increase operational efficiency. Smart fiscal management on these projects provided enough additional capital to add capacity for 540 students at existing elementary buildings, totally refurbish the Technology Center to support increased technology infrastructure.

I am thankful for the dedication of the Bentonville Public Schools Board of Education and district administrators to looking forward for solutions to maintain excellence. Due to rigorous financial oversight, we are now set to build an elementary and middle school on Featherstone Road in one of the fastest-growing sections of the district without a property tax increase. We are being proactive and beginning to plan for our 12th elementary school, sixth middle school, and fourth junior high to be constructed before 2020. These new buildings will require an investment by our community. We have consistently provided an exceptional return on investment that we can all be proud of and thankful for.

I'm blessed to be a part of Bentonville Public Schools and to be able to spend my days working with people who make taking steps toward excellence a priority. I hope you are as proud of our success and thankful for the support of this community as I am.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

NAN Our Town on 11/26/2015

Print Headline: Giving thanks for excellent schools, students and staff

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