Study Shows Urgent Need For More Bentonville Schools

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A new study released at Tuesday’s Bentonville school board meeting shows the district needs several new schools over the next decade to keep giving students an adequate education.

The report was compiled by John Kerr, a Colorado consultant, who studied student population and available classroom space.

"It helps them look at the number of students that will fit in each of its buildings and still have an adequate education for all students," Kerr said.

School board members listened carefully in a packed room, and Superintendent Michael Poore said he’s not surprised with Kerr’s findings.

"We're using space pretty effectively, whether you want to look at it through the use of square footage or academic programming," Kerr said.

According to the study, the district is running out of space.

"The study tonight points out, not only do we need a high school before this decade is out, we have to have another elementary school, another middle school and a new junior high even," Poore said. "That's probably going to shock some people, but the reality is this community is growing at a rapid rate."

The data helps the district plan for the future.

"As they institute new programs or get new equipment, whether or not they have enough room for that and how that affects their capacity without comprising what's happening in the schools," Kerr said.

The district also hired a demographer. It expects an initial report by the end of March and a final one in May.

The Bentonville School Board has agreed to push for a millage increase later this year to pay for a second high school.

The school district has seen major growth in recent years, including at its overcrowded high school, which now enrolls about 4,000 students.

Administrators have said the district needs a solution as soon as possible to ease the overcrowding in Bentonville Public Schools.