Pea Ridge School Board looks at op­tions to help school crowd­ing

The Pea Ridge School District has been ap­proved by the state for match­ing funds of $10.6 mil­lion to con­struct a new school.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - AN­NETTE BEARD

PEA RIDGE — Op­tions to al­le­vi­ate school crowd­ing are be­ing con­sid­ered by the School Board af­ter the first op­tion — con­struct­ing a new high school on 77 acres on Hay­den Road — was struck down when vot­ers de­nied a 5.1-mill in­crease in a spe­cial elec­tion May 9.

The Pea Ridge School District has been ap­proved by the state for match­ing funds of $10.6 mil­lion to con­struct a new school.

A sec­ond op­tion — ex­tend the mid­dle school south onto prop­erty on We­ston Street and re­con­fig­ure the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion through that and other build­ings — was pre­sented to the board at a re­cent study ses­sion.

A third op­tion — the pos­si­bil­ity of con­struct­ing a new mid­dle school on 20 acres on Hazel­ton Road, then re-con­fig­ur­ing grades be­tween the ex­ist­ing build­ings — also was pre­sented.

Those two op­tions in­volve RLP De­vel­op­ment, which owns land at the cor­ner of It’ll Do and West Pick­ens roads. RLP of­fi­cials have ex­pressed a de­sire to pur­chase or trade for land owned by the district on which the base­ball and softball fields sit. In ex­change, RLP will con­struct new ball fields.

The ball fields are to be con­structed on land ap­proved for pur­chase re­cently by the board — 10 acres from Ron Bray and five acres from In­thavone B.Rat­sachak and Saength­avy. That would put the ball fields south of the multi-pur­pose fa­cil­ity on the school cam­pus. The cost of the two pieces of land is $385,000.

Of­fi­cials at RLP are of­fer­ing to trade 20 acres of a 55-acre tract on It’ll Do Road. School of­fi­cials said they could con­struct a mid­dle school to house sixth- and seventh-grade stu­dents with a 450-stu­dent ca­pac­ity, then re­as­sign grades eight and nine to dif­fer­ent build­ings. The es­ti­mated cost for the project is $11 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to school of­fi­cials.

Also as part of the third op­tion, the district would build an au­di­to­rium on the We­ston Street prop­erty, re­lo­cate the fo­cal point of the ex­ist­ing high school, add a new roof and new HVAC in class­room ar­eas and sell 77 acres on Hay­den Road.

The board au­tho­rized su­per­in­ten­dent Rick Neal to ne­go­ti­ate the trade agree­ment with RLP, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of the ball fields as part of the trade, and ap­proved the land pur­chase ad­ja­cent to the We­ston Street prop­erty.

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