State Could Help Pay for New Bentonville High School

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The Bentonville School District could get up to $15.4 million dollars to build a second high school, that's if voters in the district approve a millage increase on the September ballot.

The state money will come through the Arkansas Department of Education's Academic Facilities Partnership Program.

Superintendent Michael Poore said a new school is needed because of overcrowding at Bentonville High School.

"That money will actually be scaled back just a little bit because the size of our project is going to be scaled back. Initially we submitted 2,500 students now we are going to submit 2,250 but the money is there that's the best part," said Poore.

The school district must break ground on a second high school by October 2014.

The district is looking at two properties, one on southwest Bright Road in Bentonville and another on Gamble Road in Centerton.

Voters must approve a millage increase or the district won't get money, according to Poore.

"It's really important that voters understand that the dynamics of the partnership of money is changing. This is the first time that Bentonville has actually qualified for it, there's no guarantee that we will qualify for it in the future," said Poore.

Voters rejected a 6.7 millage increase last June, but Poore says this proposal could be less than half that amount.

The new school would cost around $70 million to build.

The school board had to make cuts to lower the cost of the school.

“We cut out all the other fluff that was in it. We took out HVAC improvements, we took out the technology improvements, and we took out the huge athletic facilities. We took a lot of things out to get this more palatable for the community to say 'that's a number that I can afford to support," said School Board President, Travis Riggs. "When you throw in top all of those cuts an extra $15 million you're getting from the state it just compounds the effect and we're able to bring it in at a much lower cost and like I said we are hearing potentially we might get this below 2.9 mills."

The school board met Thursday (April 25) to discuss what the school campus will look like and where it should be built.