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story.lead_photo.caption Bentonville School District administration building.

BENTONVILLE -- A proposed change to junior high school attendance zones would cause nearly 400 students to change schools between their seventh- and eighth-grade years, according to officials' projections.

A zoning change is necessary with the School District's fourth junior high school set to open in August 2020 at Holloway and North Vaughn roads in Centerton. The fourth junior high hasn't been named.

Student impact

Under the Bentonville School District’s proposed junior high school rezoning plan that would take effect with the 2020-21 school year, here’s how many students entering the eighth grade that year would need to change schools. Bentonville’s junior high schools cover the seventh and eighth grades.

Current zoneProposed zoneNumber of students

Fulbright Junior High No. 4254

Lincoln Junior High No. 488

Washington Fulbright43

Lincoln Washington12

Total students impacted: 397

Source: Bentonville School District

District administrators presented their rezoning plan Monday at a community forum at Bentonville High School. Five people, not including administrators, showed up for the meeting.

The plan shows the fourth junior high school's zone would cover the district's southwest quadrant, including most of Centerton and part of southwest Bentonville. It would take up much of what is now Fulbright Junior High School's zone.

Fulbright finished this past school year with 940 students, close to its capacity of 1,000. The proposed rezoning would shrink Fulbright's zone such that it would open the 2020-21 school year with an estimated 709 students.

The other two junior highs -- Washington and Lincoln -- would see minor changes to their zones. Washington, which covers the northeast part of the district, would receive a downtown section of Lincoln's zone stretching from Walton Boulevard several blocks east to Southwest A Street. Another section of Washington, east of Walton and south of Southeast 14th Street, would shift to Fulbright's zone.

Lincoln's zone would lose the Kensington Hills neighborhood of Centerton and another section west of Main Street in Centerton to the fourth junior high school's zone.

Administrators presented their proposal for the first time at last week's School Board meeting. They have made one change since then at the board's suggestion, adding a bit more of Fulbright's zone to the fourth junior high school's zone.

"What this did was this followed the current high school boundary, so it allowed us to have three schools that would be 100% feeder into their high schools," said Tanya Sharp, director of student services.

Lincoln Junior High would be the only school that doesn't feed all of its students to the same high school. It would send 44% of its students to Bentonville High School and 56% to West High School, according to Sharp.

"Our board has been very interested in what feeder patterns would look like," she said.

One woman in the audience asked why the Sienna Estates subdivision near downtown Centerton would stay in Lincoln's zone instead of shifting to the fourth junior high school. She said it didn't make much sense, considering Lincoln would be at 82% capacity, while the fourth junior high would be only 68% full, according to district projections.

Mike Brinson, a Sienna Estates resident, said his three children will have to go in three different directions: west to West High School, east to Lincoln Junior High and south to Osage Creek Elementary. Families like his will spend about 90 minutes a day transporting their kids to school, he said.

The district's plan to keep Sienna Estates in the Lincoln zone had to do with bus transportation logistics, Sharp said. She added the district has to allow for the most growth in the new school's zone.

Administrators pledged they will consider all public feedback to their rezoning plan before they present a final version for approval at the School Board's meeting on July 16.

"We're taking notes," said Superintendent Debbie Jones. "We'll take those back, evaluate and see if those changes can be made. Then we formulate a recommendation that will go before the board."

NW News on 06/11/2019

Print Headline: Bentonville details junior high rezoning plan

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