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Source : Wikimedia Commons
May 1, 2021
Author : Patty Rodriguez
It was approved on Thursday by the state’s Commission for Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation, a three-member committee consisting of the Secretary of the Department of Education, the Director of the Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation, and the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.
According to Arkansas Online, the funds were unanimously approved by the commission and the money will go to projects ranging from dining expansions to gymnasiums.
A full list of all projects approved for Fiscal Year 2021-2023 shows that funds will go to building 10 new facilities, including: a new elementary school in Benton, a new elementary school for grades three through five in Arkadelphia, a new high school for grades seven through 12 in Brinkley, a new building for minors under the care of the state in Cabot, a new high school in Highland, a new elementary school for students in Kindergarten through sixth grade, also in Brinkley, a new middle school in Benton, two new elementary schools in the Jacksonville North Pulaski school district, and a new high school in Watson Chapel.
Three projects got tentative approval from the commission, meaning funds are contingent on legislative approval. Those include work at Pine Bluff High School, an addition at Springdale’s Central Junior High School, and renovation at Belleville Elementary School.
A large portion of the funds, $23 million, is going to the Southside School District in Batesville, and is seeing rapid growth in its enrollment, which is currently at 2,300 students. District superintendent Roger Rich told Arkansas Online district leaders have “put a lot of time and effort in the last several years planning for this and hoping it would come to fruition for our kids and our community."
While the state is not covering the entire costs of all the projects, funding is shared by districts, an amount “determined by a district's enrollment and its local property tax wealth, with wealthier districts qualifying for smaller percentages of state building aid or even no state building aid,” according to the outlet.
In the Southside district, they’ll use the funding to help pay for additions to campus where classes are held in cafeterias, on the stage, and in every closet and in every nook and cranny we can find a place," according to the superintendent.
Not all the projects approved by the commission even though there is not funding for them yet. Those could wind up getting funding next year if more funds are freed up by districts not carrying on with their planned projects.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.