Prairie Grove School District 46 is suspending future campus expansion plans, at least for the time being, following survey results that showed many community members were not in favor of funded options by taxpayers, Superintendent John Bute said.
A new addition of seven classrooms for fifth graders will be partially ready for the start of the school year, Bute said.
The district announced in a letter to parents last month that it would not move forward on the bond referendum.
Ambitious expansion options would have required a $26 or $36 million plan, which could have added up to two new wings and nine new classrooms.
The primary reasons for the expansion were traffic issues at the Highway 176 entrance and the continued increase in listings, due to the growth of the nearby Woodlore Estates subdivision.
“While our community gave high marks to PG46 and expressed support for our schools, most residents were opposed to the magnitude of the tax rate increase,” Bute said in the letter. “It was just too much, especially given recent increases in the cost of living. As we have said from the beginning, these are your schools and you have the final say on how we protect and improve them.
Bute added in the letter that the district would “continue to work hard to continue to maintain and improve our academic excellence” and would “provide a safe and secure learning environment.”
With the referendum option no longer on the table, district officials weighed the options at the final school board meeting on Tuesday.
Stuart Brodsky, an architect with Wight & Company working with the district on potential options, gave a presentation on renovations that could take place in the existing building over the next few years, Bute said.
The council-backed plan includes modernizing and repairing current facilities – updating bathrooms and doors – and bringing them up to current health and safety standards, as well as energy efficiency measures , Bute said.
The district may pursue smaller expansion options in the future or seek other funding options, Bute said.
“We can’t say for sure that a construction project can’t happen again,” Bute said. “We know our enrollment is up right now. We get three to eight calls a day for people new to the area wanting to know how to enroll their student. »
While growth continues to be an issue, Bute said, the new fifth-year wing will allow for appropriate classroom spaces for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year; in previous years, the district had to use the library for additional classrooms.
Due to supply chain issues, the new wing will not be 100% complete by the start of the year, Bute said, but noted expectations were that the rooftop air conditioning and heating units would be delivered shortly after the start of the school year.
Since the end of the school year, about 30 new students have enrolled in District 46, Bute said, an increase of about 3 to 4 percent that brings the district’s total to more than 820 students.
The new school year begins on August 22.