Plans for PRHS go to city

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD [email protected]

Plans for the new Pea Ridge High School will be re­viewed by Pea Ridge Plan­ning Com­mis­sion mem­bers at the reg­u­lar monthly meeting Tues­day, Nov. 6. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

Once plans are ap­proved by the city, district of­fi­cials hope to be­gin dirt work and site work prepa­ra­tions by Christ­mas to main­tain the ex­pected com­ple­tion of fall 2020, said school su­per­in­ten­dent Rick Neal. The new lo­ca­tion of the high school will sit on 40 acres on West Pick­ens Road (Arkansas High­way 94). Those 40 con­struc­tion-ready acres were traded for 77 acres on Hay­den Road.

Con­struc­tion plans were de­layed largely be­cause of de­vel­op­ment and cost con­cerns along

Hazel­ton Road. Due to un­ex­pected changes since the Fe­bru­ary vote, the Hazel­ton lo­ca­tion would have re­quired al­most $1.5 mil­lion in street de­vel­op­ment and ad­di­tional pur­chase costs, Neal said. The five acres pur­chased ad­ja­cent to the 40 acres will al­low for high­way ac­cess and im­proved traf­fic flow.

Al­ter­ing the lo­ca­tion al­lowed the district to keep the state grant match­ing more than half of the cost of the project. Un­der the ap­proved 3.9 mil-tax in­crease in Fe­bru­ary, the district was able to pro­cure state aid pro­vid­ing 52 per­cent, or $10.6 mil­lion, of the fund­ing for the project. The part­ner­ship funds have to be spent by spring 2021 to keep the fund­ing.

The lo­ca­tion change will al­le­vi­ate traf­fic-re­lated con­ges­tion com­pared to the pre­vi­ously pro­posed lo­ca­tion. The road de­ci­sion lies out­side the author­ity of the district be­cause sur­round­ing road­ways are the per­vue of city, county and state government. District of­fi­cials are also work­ing with the civil engi­neers and ar­chi­tects to ac­tively seek so­lu­tions to chal­lenges and work­ing with city and state en­ti­ties to fa­cil­i­tate timely trans­porta­tion dur­ing high­traf­fic hours.

The time­line is im­por­tant to the district be­cause the con­struc­tion of the new high school im­pacts all grade lev­els. The planned re­con­fig­u­ra­tion, re­dis­tribut­ing grade lev­els among the cur­rent cam­puses, pro­vides so­lu­tions to over­crowd­ing at all school build­ings. If con­struc­tion is com­pleted by May 2020, the district will have al­most three months to move teach­ers and nec­es­sary equip­ment to new class­rooms and pre­pare for ex­pected growth, Neal said.

The ul­ti­mate goal of the en­tire project is fa­cil­i­tat­ing growth and promis­ing a bright fu­ture for the stu­dents of the Pea Ridge School District.

The first known Pea Ridge School opened in 1851 to ac­com­mo­date a few stu­dents with one teacher. To­day, the district serves more than 2,200 stu­dents with 270 em­ploy­ees. The district aims to pre­pare stu­dents for their fu­ture by pro­vid­ing a per­son­al­ized, safe, learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence which results in an un­com­mon ed­u­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence for all.

In ad­di­tion to the large scale de­vel­op­ment for the high school, city plan­ners are also re­view­ing:

• A large scale de­vel­op­ment for the Dono­van Build­ing on Slack Street;

• A lot split for 13511 Ryan Road by Christo­pher Dono­van; and

• A home oc­cu­pa­tion re­quest for 1300 Spruce St. by Bran­don John­son.

The meeting is open to the pub­lic.

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