School, city need to work to­gether

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

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

new school.

“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

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