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.


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