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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo/BENTONVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT A artist's rendering of the planned collaboration area is shown as part of the Bentonville School District's Ignite Professional Studies building, which will be at 1510 N. Walton Blvd. The district bought the building Thursday and plans to complete renovation of it by next summer.

BENTONVILLE -- The School District has a building for its Ignite Professional Studies program.

The district closed Thursday on the purchase of 1510 N. Walton Blvd. for $1.45 million, according to Janet Schwanhausser, finance director. The 17,513 square-foot building, formerly owned by NCR Corp., is just north of Fred's Hickory Inn.


The Bentonville School District Ignite program offers classes in the following career fields:

• Construction management

• Culinary arts

• Digital design and photography

• Education

• Global business

• Health sciences

• Technology

• Video production

Source: Bentonville School District

Renovating and equipping the building to suit the Ignite program's needs will cost an estimated $4.75 million, according to officials. A guaranteed maximum price for the project will be presented to the School Board in November. The project is expected to be completed in June.

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 250 students are enrolled in Ignite classes this year, but that's expected to grow over the next few years.

Six of the eight career strands will meet at the Ignite building. Construction management will continue meeting at Northwest Arkansas Community College and culinary will continue to meet at the college's Brightwater facility.

Each of the career strands meets in a different place throughout the community. Bringing most of them together under one roof will allow collaboration among the strands.

"We're just trying to bring those spaces together because people have been loaning us spaces, and now they're ready to kind of let that go," said Teresa Hudson, Ignite's director.

Michelle McClaflin, vice president with the architectural firm Hight Jackson Associates, presented renderings and a floor plan for the building at a board meeting Sept. 4.

Hight Jackson architects attended Ignite classes to gain a better understanding of the different needs of each career strand. Students want an environment with a professional feel, McClaflin said.

A professional-style board room and the Ignite director's office will take up opposite sides of the front lobby. There will be separate classrooms for each strand.

The video production strand and the digital design and photography strand classrooms both will have editing booths and will share a studio. The medical strand's space will include four simulation labs in addition to its instructional space.

All classrooms will have "sharewalls" -- full-wall, magnetic whiteboards students and staff members can write on. Having space to write things down was one of the wishes of many Ignite students, McClaflin said.

"They said they just want a space where we can write what we're thinking when we're working as a group," she said.

A large collaboration area in the middle of the building will provide space to comfortably seat 150 people, McClaflin said.

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, but the bill for that project turned out to be about $9 million -- far above what the district had budgeted for an Ignite building, Schwanhausser said.

She said the district was "very fortunate" to find the Walton Boulevard building, which she described as just the right size for Ignite.

"We wouldn't be buying more than we needed. It had a lot of things in place that we didn't need to replace," Schwanhausser said.

The building comes with a parking lot, a generator, and many windows providing natural light. Patrick Horath, project manager with Flintco, said the building was "kept up very nicely."

NW News on 09/15/2018

Print Headline: Bentonville School District has Ignite building plan

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