Fayetteville School District to buy land for $1.8 million

Fayetteville's School Board is shown holding its monthly meeting in this file photo. 
 (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Dave Perozek)
Fayetteville's School Board is shown holding its monthly meeting in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Dave Perozek)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The School Board on Thursday approved buying land for a future school and hired firms that will manage facility projects at schools.

The board voted unanimously to buy 23 undeveloped acres on the west side of town along North Rupple Road, one mile south of Owl Creek School, for $1.8 million, or $78,261 per acre. The land is owned by Larry Cole of Cave Springs, Superintendent John L Colbert said.

The School District's next school will be built there within the next few years. Officials haven't determined what kind of school it will be.

"We're leaning toward a middle school," Colbert said. "We'll finalize that decision after some more discussion with the board."

That decision hinges largely on what information comes from the district's next demographics update, which is expected soon, Colbert said.

Much of the district's growth is on its west side. The area surrounding the property is largely undeveloped but is growing quickly, administrators said.

The new school is part of a broader facility plan made possible by voters' approval in February to restructure some of the district's bond issues.

The board accepted the sale of bonds that will create $114,665,831 for the projects outlined during that campaign. The district originally anticipated $111 million from the sale.

The district received bids from seven investment firms on its bond package on May 12. The winning bid came from Mesirow Financial with the lowest interest rate of about 2.825%.

"It was an incredibly successful day," said Melissa Walsh, associate banker for Stephens, a financial services firm assisting the district.

Board President Nika Waitsman said the board is thrilled by the results of the bond sale.

"Our district and our community is going to reap huge benefits," she said.

The district now is moving forward with the plan to address various facility needs at each of its 16 schools, such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, heating and air conditioning systems and facade or structural issues.

A facility condition assessment by consultants last year provided the district a list of maintenance priorities. In general, the older the school, the more money that will be put into it.

The board on Thursday approved architects and construction managers for those projects.

Nabholz will serve as construction manager, and JKJ Architects will be the architect on the work planned for Leverett and Washington elementary schools. Milestone Construction and Architecture Plus will do the work on Ramay and Woodland junior high schools.

The rest of the work outlined in the facility condition assessment will be handled by Nabholz and Crafton Tull.

In other news, Colbert told the board the district has assembled a task force of teachers, parents and community leaders to provide input on how the last couple months of this school year went, with schools closed to in-person instruction because of covid-19.

That group of 49 people met for the first time Wednesday and will meet again June 10, Colbert said.

Their input will inform the district about what they experienced and some things the district should consider as it prepares to open schools in August, he said.

"It's not going to be the same," Colbert said. "So we need to start thinking now about what that's going to look like. So I'm looking forward to hearing their input."

Teacher of the Year

The Fayetteville School District on Thursday announced Tana Dawson, a physical education teacher at Holcomb Elementary School, as its teacher of the year.

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette

The price of the acres has been corrected to $78,261 per acre.

NW News on 05/29/2020

This story was originally published at 7:28 a.m.

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