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story.lead_photo.caption File photo of construction at an elementary school behind J.O. Kelly Middle School in Springdale. - Photo by Anthony Reyes

SPRINGDALE -- The School Board backed district plans to build two elementary schools at Tuesday's meeting in light of a 7,000-student projected growth in the next decade.

These new schools are part of the School District's 10-year plan.

Election

Springdale School Board welcomed back Randy Hutchinson, who was re-elected for his third five-year term as board member. The board elected Kevin Ownbey as the 2017-18 board president. Ownbey previously held the secretary position.

The board elected Michelle Cook as the 2017-18 board vice president. The board elected Kathy McFetridge as the 2017-18 board secretary.

Source: Staff report

"It's important that we plan ahead," superintendent Jim Rollins said.

The plan is to have one elementary school open by 2020 on the east side of the district and the other open by 2022 on the west side. The 2020 school is in the design phase with an estimated cost of $18 million. All plans, including the possible location of the schools, are very soft, Rollins said. The will become clearer in the next few months, he said.

Rollins said the district will probably bid the 2020 elementary school within the next 6-8 months. Construction would be about a 15-18-month project at a minimum.

The next step is get the plans approved by the state, which has an academic partnership program that could pay for about 44 percent of the cost based on Springdale's growth and poverty level, Rollins said. Without this help, he said, Springdale schools wouldn't have the quality or number of buildings it has today.

"I know the governor is concerned about the state being able to continue that partnership funding, but for the immediate future, the plan is still in place," he said. "So what the board approved tonight was projected facility additions over the next decade that we will ask the state to help us with."

A new private or charter school could change the estimated growth of the district and could also affect building plans, Rollins said.

Other additions include multi-purpose additions at George Elementary School and additions and conversions to Central Junior High School. These are general needs the School District is studying and may or may not qualify for state help in funding.

The plans also include maintenance on school buildings including roof replacement, new heating and air conditioning units, air conditioned gyms and addition of hot water.

The board also acknowledged the Arkansas Department of Education's Charter Authorizing Panel's approval for the change in grade levels at the Tyson School of Innovation in the 2017-2018 term to grades K-12, according to the agenda.

The approval gives the board the discretion to add grades as it sees fit, said Kendra Clay, director of Pupil, Personnel and Legal Services for the district.

The school now enrolls 777 students in grades eight through 12. There is now approval for seventh grade.

"There are no plans to expand to kindergarten at this time," Clay said.

NW News on 10/25/2017

Print Headline: School Board approves new elementary schools plan

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