Bella Vista Group Fights For Own School District
A group in Bella Vista wants to build schools in its city, but it doesn’t meet the 4,000 student minimum requirements under state law.
The Bella Vista Patriots, a community organization, proposed the idea that was struck down by the Bentonville School Board in August.
“The fact that they have to get on the bus around 6:30 in the morning and then they don’t get home until after 4:30 in the afternoon, we feel like that’s an issue,” said Jim Parsons, Bella Vista Patriots Chairman.
Bella Vista has about 3,000 students. Most attend school in Bentonville and others in Gravette.
“There are not 4,000 students in Bella Vista that are Bentonville kids. You almost get there if you combine Bentonville and Gravette, so really what you are trying to do is take apart two different districts,” said Michael Poore, Bentonville superintendent.
The Bentonville School Board approved funding to add on to Cooper Elementary, which is a district school that’s located in Bella Vista.
“That will allow us to bring more students from the northern part of our district in Bella Vista directly down into Cooper, and it will cut down on some of their bus time,”Poore said.
Poore said Bella Vista doesn’t have a tax base to fund school construction.
“If you try to build those schools in terms of the taxation that would go to Bella Vista, I think they would be outraged at the cost that would be associated with that type of system,” Poore said.
Parsons said the opposite, claiming they want the money sent to Bentonville to stay in Bella Vista.
“We did come here with our retirement money and we put our money in the bank, we built our homes and here we are paying those taxes to other cities,” Parsons said.
Parsons said having schools gives its citizens a sense of town pride.
“It is the place where they go on Friday nights or Tuesday night to watch the kids, and it’s a community identity,” Parsons said.
The Bella Vista Patriots plan to lobby a change in the law. If approved, the decision will go to a public vote.
The Bentonville school board plans to have the additions to Cooper Elementary completed by 2013.