Forty Arkansas school districts will receive $103.7 million in state funding for 56 campus construction, expansion and system replacement projects in the coming 2019-20 fiscal year.
Arkansasonline.com reports that the Arkansas Commission for Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation has approved funding for the projects in districts as large as Springdale, Little Rock, Benton, Cabot, Fort Smith and Arkadelphia, and as small as Earle, Bay and Maynard.
The West Memphis School District is in line to receive the largest amount of state funding. The district is scheduled to receive $11.2 million from the state for a new West Junior High School and $11.2 million for a new junior high to replace East and Wonder junior highs.
The funding is the state's share of the cost of the local building projects. The share is determined by a district's student enrollment and its local property tax base. Wealthier districts qualify for smaller percentages of state building aid.
The financial aid for school buildings is the result of Arkansas' Academic Facilities Partnership Program. Officials began that program in 2006 to modernize public schools in response to a state Supreme Court decision that had declared Arkansas' public schools inequitable, inadequate and unconstitutional.
If any of the districts approved for funding are unable to raise their share of building costs or otherwise change their plans. the state construction money will be rescinded and free up funds for eligible but unfunded projects.
Bryan Duffie, superintendent of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District, says that anticipated approval of funding for a replacement Jacksonville Middle School and is excited to have that come to fruition.
The district, which is under federal court order to improve its facilities, is to receive $8,070,347.29 from the state for construction that could total as much as $24 million, not counting furnishings and technology purchases. The district must raise $15 million to $16 million to fully fund the construction.
The district is seeking voter approval at a May 21 tax election.
The new middle school is scheduled to open in August 2021 at the same time as an adjoining new elementary school.
The Little Rock district also was approved for partnership funding—$936,820 to replace Cloverdale Middle School. The district's plans to build a K-8 school at the site of the existing McClellan High.
Other districts to receive funding:
- Springdale School District will receive nearly $5.8 million for the—$4 million for additions to Southwest Junior High and $1.8 million for additions and conversions at Central Junior High.
- The Prescott School District is in line to receive almost $5.2 million for a new elementary school.
- The England School District is approved for nearly $5 million for a replacement elementary school.
- Prairie Grove School District is approved to receive $4.7 million for a new seventh- and eighth-grade school.
- The Genoa Central district will also get about $4.7 million for an addition to the junior high school.