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Voters living in the 53-square miles of the Pea Ridge School District have the opportunity to vote Tuesday, Feb. 13, on a request from the School Board for an additional 3.9 mills which would raise money to match state funds to build a new high school.

"It's an opportunity to invest in the future," Kelsey Smith, chief executive officer of NWA Brand, and chairman of the Pea Ridge Future Community.

Special election for

School Millage

7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

First Baptist Church

1650 Slack St.

Reconfiguration of campuses:

School campus^Current grades^Proposed grades

• Pea Ridge Primary School^Kindergarten-second grade^K-2

• Pea Ridge Intermediate School^3-5^3-4

• Pea Ridge Middle School^6-8^5-6

• Old Pea Ridge High School*^9-12^7-9

• New Pea Ridge High School^9-12^10-12

*Current PRHS could become Pea Ridge Jr. High

If the millage is approved, plans call for constructing a new high school on 20 acres north of Hazelton Road for 10th through 12th grades.

The other grades would be redistributed among the current four campuses to better meet the needs of the students, according to school officials, and to allow for continued growth.

"It is a change in kindergarten through 12th grade," school superintendent Rick Neal said. "It's a reconfiguring of our district. Building of the high school changes the whole district, it doesn't just change the high school ... it would allow the district to spread out."

"Our primary goal is post-graduation success for all students," Neal said.

Total cost of the new high school is projected to be $20.3 million. With approximately $9.7 million for the proposed new high school being raised from the local millage increase (48 percent from local funds) and approximately $10.6 million from state partnership money (52 percent from state funds).

"Over the past 13 years, the district has grown at an average of 4.5 percent to bring us to our current kindergarten through 12th grade student population of 2,140," assistant superintendent Keith Martin. "If we continue the same growth rate, we will be at a student population of approximately 3,200 students around 2027.

"The proposed new high school and reconfiguration of current campuses will allow the district to sustain its current growth rate for a decade," Martin said.

"Almost every project we've got was built with partnership money," Martin said, adding, "We've done a great job as a community maximizing the partnership money."

The district has maximized district building funds since the last millage increase with the construction/completion of the following projects without requesting additional taxes from district residents:

• Constructed Primary School building

• Remodeled and added onto Intermediate School

• Constructed FEMA building

• Constructed PRHS classroom addition

• Constructed Middle School addition

• Constructed Multi-purpose facility

• Constructed Fine arts wing to PRHS

• Constructed Administration building

• Constructed football field

With the new plans, developed after the failed millage increase request last fall, school officials attempted to resolve the concerns expressed by opponents to the millage increase.

One concern was traffic congestion on Weston Street. School officials purchased land behind the School Administration building and to the south of the Primary School with access to Hazelton Road and plan a driveway off Hazelton to the Primary School to alleviate the traffic congestion on Weston Street during drop off and pick up at the elementary school.

Another concern expressed was the traffic congestion at the intersection of Hayden Road (Arkansas Highway 265) and West Pickens Road (Arkansas Highway 72) increasing if the high school was built on Hayden Road. School officials changed the location to property off Hazelton Road that will be gained by a property trade with RLP Developers. Pea Ridge Mayor Jackie Crabtree assured voters that Hazelton Road will be paved if the school is built on Hazelton Road.

Two community informational meetings were held and a social media page created to communicate transparently with voters.

Early voting is available Feb. 6-9 and Feb. 12 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Benton County Courthouse, 215 E. Central, Suite 217, Bentonville, and the County Clerk's Office at 1428 W. Walnut, Rogers. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the voting site will be First Baptist Church, 1650 Slack St., Pea Ridge.

General News on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Millage vote is Tuesday

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