School, city need to work together
The school district and city are two different entities and derive their income from different sources. But, both are intertwined and dependent on each other in many ways.
School superintendent Rick Neal spoke to the City Council Tuesday to “chat about the work we’re doing inside the district, discuss the possibility of future planning and … keep you informed and hopefully be able to partner in making decisions.”
Neal said city leaders need to look at issues caused by growth aggressively.
School officials reflected about the millage failure and honed on three issues they believed were factors. First of all, the millage request was too high; secondly, the proximity and location of the school building; and thirdly the problems of traffic mostly at West Pickens and Hayden roads.
“We’ve looked at, thought about and put a lot of time into planning. We really feel like we’ve worked hard to remove some of those obstacles.
School officials are looking at a property on Hazelton Road for a
“Traffic is not a school problem,” Neal said, adding that “Hazelton has to be paved before we go to the voters to take a look at this because if it’s not paved, my discussions with the construction are null and void. Before I can proceed in that process and those negotiations, it’s very important to have a solid plan and tell the truth to our voters.
“That would be take the traffic off Weston Street,” he said, explaining that an access to the Primary School could be made off Hazelton Road.
“I’m very pleased and proud of my board for looking at the vision and the changes we’ve had to make based on the strong recommendations, complaints and words of the public. We are recognizing those issues,” he said.
In response to a question from alderman Bob Cottingham on funding, Neal said there is still $10.6 million promised to the district from the state that will be awarded in 2018-19. He said school officials are “pretty economical” and usually build for about $165-$195 a square foot compared to $225 in Bentonville and Rogers. He said the new building would be about 120,000-140,000 square feet and house 10th through 12th grades.
There are no athletic facilities planned for the new site.
“I think our biggest piece on this is getting behind the school and getting Hazelton paved,” Mayor Jackie Crabtree said. “We’ve got several different roads we need to take care of. It will take $2.3 million to pave Hazelton.
“The only way to do anything like this is to go to the voters and ask for a bond tax or a city sales tax,” he said. “I think that’s our discussion if we as a council are committed to this. We need to go and dig our heels in and get something done.”
“Even if you take the school out of it,” School Board member Jeff Neil said, “if you extend Patton … right to Hazelton, all you’ve done is exasperate the problem that we have on Weston Street. It brings it right out to Hazelton which is a dirt road.”
Land developer Kevin Felgenhauer, in the audience, asked Neal if the school could sell the Hayden Road property and put that money towards paving Hazelton.
“You can’t pave a city road with school funds,” Neal said.
Crabtree agreed: “That would be like city trying to pave a road on school property.”
Mr. and Mrs. David Phillips in 1967