BENTONVILLE -- The School Board unanimously voted Monday to buy a building for its Ignite program, thus foregoing a plan to construct additional space for the program at West High School.
The School District will spend $1.45 million on the property at 1510 N. Walton Blvd., owned by NCR Corp. and just north of Fred's Hickory Inn restaurant. The asking price was $1.66 million, according to the School District.
The Bentonville School District Ignite program offers classes in the following career fields:
Digital design and photography
Source: Bentonville School District
Janet Schwanhausser, the district's finance director, said it will cost about $4.4 million to renovate the 17,513-square-foot building to suit the district's needs. Administrators will present a renovation plan and budget at the board's next meeting Sept. 4. The building is expected to be ready by August 2019, said Superintendent Debbie Jones.
The board voted in March to build an Ignite facility at West High School. Officials at the time discussed adding about 20,000 square feet to the school for an estimated $3.6 million. On Monday, however, Schwanhausser said the cost to add on to West High School would have been closer to $9 million.
Ignite, now in its fourth year, immerses high school students in experiences in a professional environment with support from a facilitating teacher and professional mentors. It offers classes in eight career fields ranging from global business to education.
About 200 students are enrolled in Ignite classes this school year, but Jones said the new facility will allow the district to double the program's enrollment capacity.
Ignite classes meet in various places depending on their needs and to expose students to real-world, professional environments. Last year the district spent $26,365 to rent spaces for some classes, such as at Northwest Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas' Global Campus in Rogers.
The district can't continue to depend on those organizations to continue offering their spaces for Ignite, Jones said.
"What we want most from them is those apprenticeship opportunities for our kids, and they gladly do that," Jones said. "But in addition to asking them for facility space, it's really overextending our welcome. So we need a permanent location if, number one, we can sustain the program and number two, we can expect it to grow."
The building is roughly 4 miles from Bentonville High School and 6 miles from West High School by car. It's also a convenient location for business people to visit, Jones said.
Even when the new building opens, two Ignite classes will meet elsewhere -- construction management will be at Northwest Arkansas Community College and culinary will meet at the college's Brightwater facility.
NCR is an international company that develops transaction technologies including online banking, point-of-sale systems, mobile payments and omni channel retailing, according to its website. A sign on the North Walton building's front door indicates NCR moved to West J.B. Hunt Drive in Rogers.
In other business at Monday's meeting, the board unanimously approved changes to the facility use agreement policy to allow organizations not affiliated with the district to use school facilities immediately after school hours.
The practice had been prohibited starting in February, primarily because of concerns about the security of students in the district's after-school program, Adventure Club.
Organizers of the Good News Club, a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship, urged the district to reconsider. Good News Club had been holding after-school meetings in some schools for many years, according to organizers.
Under the new policy, all non-school groups will be required to provide annual proof of state and federal background checks completed through the district for any individual associated with the organization who will be in the building. These people will receive identification badges they must wear while they are in the school buildings.
In addition, the district modified the three-hour minimum rental fee and supervisor fee to allow one-hour rental and supervisor rates.
NW News on 08/21/2018
Print Headline: Bentonville School Board agrees to buy building for Ignite program