Plans for PRHS go to city
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.