Four Bentonville Elementary Schools Will Get New Additions

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The Bentonville School Board approves $7.2 million to build extra space in four elementary schools as well as technological improvements.

The district will fund the construction of a one-story four classroom addition in Centerton, Cooper and Willowbrook elementary schools.

Central Park Elementary will get a two-story eight classroom addition.

Superintendent Michael Poore said the numbers for student enrollment were much higher than anticipated.

"Instead of having 500 new students, we have over 1,000," Poore said.

"As a result, we had pressure to address the elementary issue," he said.

The funds come from left over money left from the 2010 bond issue.

The money will also be used for technology infrastructure upgrades and technology devices throughout the district.

Poore said this will help students stay in their nearby schools.

"Kids are going across two sometimes three attendance zones to get to a school where there is capacity and they can fit in and you know that's tough for kids and parents," Poore said.

The board had a list of schools and projects that need funding and decided on how to best utilize the money.

All board members voted and agreed with the decision after using a priority matrix system.

"I'm very happy with the outcome," said Travis Riggs, school board vice president.

"We got extra money in our bond package that we are going to choose to spend that on four elementary buildings to improve the space and you saw the priority go to technology," Riggs said.

Even though the money is going to elementary schools, the high school is still having overcrowding issues.

The Bentonville School millage was struck down by voters in June for a second high school.

Administrators said $7.2 million wouldn't be enough to fund one school since it would cost $90 million.

"It would hardly scratch the surface. Also, the high school has the ability to do some things in terms of its own structure to create some flexibility," Poore said.  

Poore said they will still address the high school issue and present a plan to present to voters.

According to Mary Ley, school district spokesperson, they need to use the money in the next 18 months.

Poore said, "Ultimately, this will cut down on some of our own cost and it helps deal with the growth issue that we've experienced this year and next year."

The September 14th school board facility committee meeting will discuss the next steps for funding.