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story.lead_photo.caption Bentonville School District administration building.

BENTONVILLE -- School District administrators have changed course and are recommending 2019 for the rezoning of elementary attendance boundaries instead of 2018.

The new implementation date would coincide with the opening of the district's 12th elementary school in August 2019.

Next meetings

The topic of elementary school rezoning will be discussed at upcoming public meetings. Public input will be accepted at both meetings.

• Zoning public forum, 6 p.m. Dec. 13, at Bentonville High School’s Arend Arts Center, 1801 S.E. J St.

• Board meeting, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 18, at the Bentonville Schools Administration Building, 500 Tiger Blvd.

Source: Staff report

Tanya Sharp, executive director of student services, presented the revised proposal Monday to the School Board, four days after presenting the initial proposal at a board workshop meeting.

The 12th elementary school will be on the district's south side. Its attendance zone would cover much of the same territory Central Park Elementary School's zone now encompasses, under the zoning map administrators have proposed.

Officials originally discussed putting that map into effect next year to fix some enrollment imbalances across the district. If that were to happen, however, Central Park would hold not only the students in its new zone, but those in the 12th elementary zone for the 2018-19 school year.

That would mean more than 1,100 students attending Central Park next year, far above the school's capacity of 853. Officials reached that figure after factoring in the maximum number of kindergartners that could be zoned for both Central Park and elementary No. 12, along with enrollment growth of 3.5 percent across the grade levels, Sharp said.

Portable classrooms are not an option at Central Park's campus, given the addition to the building that was made four years ago, Sharp said.

Waiting to rezone until the 2019-20 school year means some schools will have to get creative in managing their enrollments. Apple Glen, Elm Tree, Mary Mae Jones and Central Park elementary schools would likely be over capacity next year, Sharp said.

A portable unit containing two classrooms would have to be added for next year to the campus shared by Elm Tree Elementary and Ardis Ann Middle schools at a cost of about $65,000.

Superintendent Debbie Jones said there would be some student overflow next year. Overflow describes students who will be sent to a school other than the one in their zone because of lack of space.

Dena Ross, chief operating officer, said there also would be some added personnel costs to the district of about $100,000 at the elementary level to delay rezoning by a year because of the schools that will be over their capacity.

Nevertheless, board member Joe Quinn indicated he preferred delaying rezoning until 2019, which would "give the community 20 months to understand this and wrap their heads around this," he said.

The board is expected to make a decision on the administration's rezoning proposal at its next meeting on Dec. 18.

NW News on 12/05/2017

Print Headline: Bentonville targeting 2019 for rezoning

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