Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fayetteville High School to be rebuilt on current site

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville High School To Be Rebuilt

By Rose Ann Pearce
FAYETTEVILLE -- Just to be very clear on the future, the Fayetteville School Board plans to replace Fayetteville High School on its current site, not remodel the existing building.

During a workshop meeting Tuesday, board member Tim Kring made a motion "to proceed in the development of a 21st-century curriculum plan and a matching new, not renovated, facility on the current site."

But before voting on Kring's motion, board member Becky Purcell suggested the board delay the vote until the regular meeting on Thursday to allow public comment.

Several board members said they opposed attempting to remodel the 50-year-old building, noting it should be replaced.

"I don't think remodeling is economically efficient," said board member Tim Hudson. "Just rehabbing the current building is not worth it."

The workshop was to give members a chance to discuss specific direction for the district's administrative team for the next nine months and to determine what decisions should be made before a new superintendent comes on board.

The board is conducting a national search for a new superintendent to replace Bobby New who will retire June 30. The board hired Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to guide the search.

Susan Norton, the district's chief information officer, said the administrative team is moving forward on determining site visits for teachers and principals to visit 21st century schools. There they will gather ideas as well as work internally on developing a 21st-century learning plan and accompanying staff changes.

"All this is huge and leads up to what a 21st-century school looks like," Norton said. Student achievement and closing the performance gap are driving the process, she said.

The board agreed design elements, such as technology, open space, small learning communities within the school, as well as instructional planning and staffing changes can be accomplished before the new superintendent is hired.

There was little discussion on specifics of a millage campaign that would be crucial to building a new high school. The earliest a millage increase could be voted on is probably in September 2009.

The discuss on building a new school or remodeling the old one was introduced by Purcell, who said she had no preconceived ideas about the high school except to the fiscally responsible.

She hasn't been able to determine specific problems with the buildings, she said.

"The appraisal says the buildings are in excellent condition," she said. "I've been trying to find a solid list of the problems with that building."

Other board members said the building is inadequate for developing a 21st-century curriculum in which teachers are more like facilitators in the classroom.

"The 21st century curriculum can't be done in the building we have," Kring said. "We need to have that decision made. Once the decision is made, we have to sing with the choir."


Fayetteville School Board

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: Ray Adams Leadership Center, 1000 Stone St.

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