New High School Could Be Coming to Fort Smith

A multi-million dollar plan to bring a third public high school to Fort Smith is in the works. However, some local business owners said it could hurt business on the north side of town.

Fred Williams owns a marketing company in Fort Smith. Williams is part of a group of business owners who oppose building a third high school at Chaffee Crossing.

“The third high school will have an effect on the north side of town and the south side of town. A lot of people will be moving to where the newest and greatest high school is.”

School district superintendent Benny Gooden told 5NEWS administrators have been closely studying and analyzing their student population since 2007.

“High schools and junior highs—we are literally out of space,” Gooden said. “We’ve grown almost 1,500 students in the last decade.”

Gooden said the school would be funded through a millage increase that must be approved by voters. At 65 square miles, the school district is a tight region, and a third high school would not have a negative impact, he said.

Williams said a consultant is needed to further the study.

“There`s no problem with that. I`m anticipating the consultant will look at the same things we looked at,” Gooden said.

Williams thinks the school district administrators should look into other options, such as adding on to the current high schools.

“You get in a position where you have to add support spaces. Your cafeteria is not large enough. You need additional parking,” Gooden said.

Gooden said if the School Board approves the plans, the millage vote could be on the ballot for a public vote in 2015. The school district hopes to break ground on the new high school by 2016 and for it to be ready for students by 2018.

7 comments

  • bob

    “The third high school will have an effect on the north side of town and the south side of town. A lot of people will be moving to where the newest and greatest high school is.”

    hahaha yeah right people on north side is poor as hell theres no way in hell there going to movie to Chaffee Crossing in them rich a$$ houses lol

  • RegulationNation

    Here’s an idea – stop trying to make everything on the north side of town and downtown a “historical landmark” and let businesses have control of the land and structures once they purchase it. Let the free market take place all over town and stop trying to regulate everything from the color of bricks which can be used to the height of the buildings being constructed. Wal-Mart built on the North side of town off 540 and typically that spurs many other businesses from restaurants to shopping centers. What do we have? A congested halfway thought out bridge and a dead end road. That area would be perfect for new high-end restaurants to increase the value of the area and help keep everything from being smashed on Rogers Ave. Anyone have any guesses of why that hasn’t happened?

    • contractor

      First of all the land close to Walmart is in a flood plan so that area wood have to be built up, costing way too much money. The rest of north side is already developed, so that would also cost a lot more to purchase and redovelope. Chaffee is ideal because of the location and the fact that its in the process of being developed. It will help keep the ball rolling on the housing market and future businesses in Ft Smith. Its a perfect place and will save Ft Smith tax payers more money in the long run. I’m all for it!

    • Watcher

      I agree with the first part of your comment. This forced historical nonsense is a mess. This is 2014 not 1814. Contractor is right about the flood plan. I remember talk about building a apartment complex near the end of the bridge as the Wal-Mart was being built but the cost was to high. I’m all for the new school as well.

  • Anonymous Teacher

    As a teacher, I can say building a third high school BEFORE we run out of room completely would be ideal. Think about it. If we add on to Northside and Southside, we can only safely do it during the summer months and holiday breaks. It would take too long and take up too much space that we need to successfully instruct the students. If we build a third high school, #1 that takes care of the overcrowding and #2 it could be worked on all year long without students and teachers constantly being in the way. I don’t think we should put the Fort Smith School District into the same situation that the Bentonville School District just went through. They were told by the tax payers to wait until they didn’t have any room for more students to build a second high school. Then, instead of shelling out the money for a new school, they were paying rent on extra buildings in order to have enough room for all of the students to be able to attend class. Now, you tell me. Which sounds more logical? Adding on and hoping you can get it finished between the school years, or just building a new high school which can have a year to be worked on and be completed in the safest manner?

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