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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVE PEROZEK Justin Eichmann, president of the Fayetteville School Board, speaks Thursday about former board member Susan Heil (right) during the board's meeting. Eichmann announced the School District would be naming the courtyard at Fayetteville High School after Heil, who served on the board from 2001 to this year.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The School Board voted Thursday to move forward on three facility projects and a land purchase estimated to cost a total of $6.5 million.

Those projects include renovating the district's warehouse and its transportation office and upgrading the softball field. The board also supported purchasing Lewis Park in partnership with the city from the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.

Heil Plaque

The plaque dedicating the Susan Winborn Heil Courtyard will read: “Honoring 17 years of service to the Fayetteville Board of Education and her steadfast commitment to the full utilization of technology in the classroom and the transformation of the Fayetteville High School campus.”

Source: Staff Report

The board discussed each of these items during a work session Sept. 4.

"These seemed to be the projects there was no debate about," said Larry Ben, associate superintendent for administrative services.

The district will begin by requesting bids from architects and construction managers.

District administrators have recommended razing and rebuilding the transportation department, which was built in the early 1970s and has had only minor additions since then. It offers only one restroom for 70 staff members, according to David Tate, director of physical plant and school services.

The warehouse also dates to the 1970s. It needs air conditioning and additional space for staff members and storage for food, according to administrators.

The district estimates its share of the purchase of Lewis Park, near Asbell Elementary School, at $2.2 million. The board has discussed buying the property together with the city. Discussions with the city about such a deal are ongoing, Ben said.

The city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted earlier this month to support buying the park.

The district plans to use money from its building fund to pay for the projects and reimburse the fund with proceeds from future bond sales.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the board honored former member Susan Heil, who served for 17 years before her last term expired in May. She opted not to run for re-election to her at-large seat. She attended Thursday's meeting with her family.

Justin Eichmann, board president, stood with Heil in front of the board as he praised her for her contributions. He also announced the courtyard at Fayetteville High School would be named after Heil and unveiled a picture of a plaque that would be displayed in the courtyard.

"I can't think of a better role model for our students who are looking for people to look up to for public service," Eichmann said.

Eichmann, noting Heil's dedication to technology, announced the district plans to build a charging station in the courtyard where students can recharge their electronic devices.

Heil thanked the board. She said her 17 years on the board went by quickly.

"Working with you all was absolutely amazing. Just a wonderful experience," she said. "The ability of this board to agree, to not agree, and work back and forth on issues until it's right for everybody, that's such a blessing that you just don't get with every board."

Heil, a 1980 Fayetteville High School graduate, worked with five superintendents and was board president from 2008 to 2012. She was involved in the construction of three schools and the massive renovation of Fayetteville High School during her board tenure, said Superintendent John L Colbert.

Heil's father, the late Ben Winborn, served the district as a teacher, coach and administrator. The room where the board meets is named in his honor.

NW News on 09/28/2018

Print Headline: Fayetteville board agrees to projects

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