Results of almost 10,000 surveys asking Bentonville residents if they would support a second high school in the district have been released.
In the last election, 5,597 people voted ‘no,’ while 4,033 voters said they would support a millage to pay for the second high school.
About 3,936 of the postcards were returned with the voters’ choice, suggestions and comments. Here are the results, according to school officials:
- 2,334 checked the “YES” box
- 682 checked the “ Alternative Solution” box
- 923 checked the “NO” box
School Board President Travis Riggs says he was pleased with the amount of surveys that were returned.
“It tells you that are community is engaged that they want to be involved and they want to put input into this,” said Riggs.
Voters rejected the 6.7 millage increase for a second high school in June. The school would have been built in Centerton. Superintendent Michael Poore believes it was because of the cost.
“We know that we have to come lower and we know the community is really saying significantly lower and so we want to create a winning package and so there will be deductions on a variety of different things,” said Poore.
Poore says there’s a fine line to the lowering the cost of a school while maintaining academic excellence.
“We know that a large number of people that responded back don’t want another large stadium but there’s still practice capabilities that you got to provide and might even need to be a tweak on the current athletic facility to try and make it house multiple teams,” explained Poore. “Do we want the school to look exactly like the Bentonville High School? Do we want the same academic programs in there? What do we think about the size of the auditorium? Because an auditorium not only serves the high school but the entire community.”
Riggs says there are alternative solutions to solve the overcrowding at Bentonville High. Those solutions include a ninth grade center or adding another junior high school where ninth graders would attend.
“There’s ways we can solve the overcrowding issue, the question is that really the best long term solution or are we just putting off the inevitable that we are going to have to have a second high school someday?” said Riggs.
The state will give partnership money to the district in May which could be up to $16 million.
“We know that the state has a very set number of so many kids in each classroom depending on the grade level and when a district grows they have an expectation that the community will respond to that growth and one way that they support it is through partnership money,” said Poore.
The school board will meet Monday, Jan. 14 to discuss future surveys and a timeline for a bond package.