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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Colton Neal plays trombone on Tuesday during a music class at Pea Ridge High School. A millage election held Tuesday to pay for a new high school was approved by voters.

Pea Ridge School District officials can move forward with plans to build a high school after voters agreed Tuesday to pay their share of the project.

Residents approved a 3.9-mill tax increase by a vote of 638 (59 percent) to 452 (41 percent), according to unofficial results. The increase will provide nearly $10 million toward the cost of a new high school, which will be built on Hazelton Road. The state has pledged to pay the remaining $10.6 million needed for the project.

The high school is expected to be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year and will house grades 10-12, according to Superintendent Rick Neal. The current high school on West Pickens Road will be converted into a junior high school for grades 7-9.

The district's millage rate will increase from 44.8 to 48.7, making it the highest rate among the 15 school districts in Benton and Washington counties. The Fouke School District in Miller County, with a rate of 49.7, was the only district in Arkansas that had a higher millage rate as of last year, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Tuesday's election result means the owner of a home in the district appraised at $150,000 will pay an additional $117 in property taxes each year.

Tuesday's election was the district's second attempt in less than a year to win voters' approval of a high school issue. Voters in May rejected a proposed 5.1-mill increase to build a new high school on Hayden Road.

The School Board revised its proposal following that defeat by choosing a new location for the school and lowering the millage request by 1.2 mills. The board also addressed concerns about how the new school would affect traffic in the area.

District officials said the new school was necessary to keep up with enrollment growth. Enrollment was 2,124 as of Oct. 1, an increase of about 25 percent from five years earlier. The new building will expand the district's capacity to 3,200-3,500 students.

NW News on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: Voters OK new high school for Pea Ridge

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