Bentonville Continues Forums for Proposed High School

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The Bentonville School District held its fourth public forum at Central Park Elementary School on Sunday (May 5) to receive feedback on its proposed plan for a second high school.

Dozens of parents attended and listened to Superintendent Michael Poore present a series of slideshows about the district's tentative plan for the proposed building.

The district is looking at two locations: one on Southwest Bright Road in Bentonville and the other on Gamble Road in Centerton.

"We get a pulse on what their preference is, how the costs are lining up with their expectations and reducing it from the millage from last year," said Wendi Cheatham, school board member.

Cheatham hosted Sunday's forum and said the new millage vote will be less than 3 mills. Last year's 6.7 millage proposal was rejected by voters.

Cheatham said the forums are beneficial to construct the final plan.

"Just to make sure everyone has a voice in the direction for the school district is going," Cheatham said.

Mendy Lacy has three children in the school district, and she's in favor of a millage increase.

"I'm interested in a second high school," Lacy said. "I'm nervous about them going to a school that has a larger size and what kind of programs and opportunities they will have."

Rick Smith has a son who attends Bentonville High School. Smith doesn't think the school district needs another high school and said there are other things administrators can do.

"Options that will be a better way to spend our money efficiently and expand academic opportunities for kids," Smith said.

If voters approve the millage the district could get up to $15 million in state funding.

The last public forum meeting will be on May 15. Board members will finalize their plan before the September ballot.

The current student population at the high school is 3,782. The ideal capacity is 3,500.

The new school could cost about $70 million.