The North Little Rock School District is working diligently to fulfill all the plans set forth in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and its leadership still believes the development of the entire CIP is achievable, according to Shara Brazear, a spokeswoman for the district.
"We are pleased to announce that we expect to receive $26 million from the State of Arkansas for our Capital Improvement Plan," Brazear said. "Although this isn’t the full amount we requested, we are grateful for the State’s allocation and are excited to proceed with our construction plans."
Brazear said district officials were extremely conservative three years ago when they projected bond rates, inflation rates and per-square-footage construction costs.
"All of these are presenting savings from our original estimates, so we will be able to begin Phase 1 of the plan, including building four new elementary schools (and demolishing the old ones) and beginning Phase 1 of a complete overhaul of the high school campus, which includes building two of the four Small Learning Centers and moving the stadium after football season."
The State of Arkansas did not approve the district’s middle school construction project, but NLRSD will again be able to apply for this money in 2015, she said.
"Since the middle school projects were slated for Phase 2, later in the overall timeline, at best, this would only slightly delay construction efforts," Brazear said.
The process for collecting the state funds includes the District signing an agreement within 60 days with the State Facilities Division. Once that is done, five groups, as part of the State Facilities Division will have to approve the funding, she said.
"This approval process can take anywhere from 30-60 days," Brazear said. "Once these groups approve the agreement, we will receive a letter that lets us know we can begin to ‘build up’ – basically proceed with construction past the foundation stage. There is a formal appeals process for this funding, and we are currently considering our options for possible appeals, though no decisions have been made at this point."
Brazear said district officials are thrilled to get started on these construction projects that the NLRSD has been preparing for over the last year.
"Plans are now becoming reality as we have now signed contracts to begin foundation work at Amboy, Boone Park, Lakewood and Meadow Park Elementary schools. We have received bids on the high school and hope to sign this week," she said. "We will celebrate with official Groundbreaking events at all four elementary schools and the high school later this month."
All four of the elementary schools will be new construction with modern, state-of-the-art features in them that help strengthen the education process for the youngest students. The original construction timeline was June of this year start with a June 2014 finish, but this timetable will depend on how soon funding from the state of Arkansas is approved and secured, said Brazear.
"We are also beginning Phase 1 of a complete overhaul of the high school campus, which includes Building Two of the four Small Learning Centers and moving the stadium after football season. Additional Phase 2 projects will include building a new auditorium, cafeteria and the additional two Small Learning Centers," she said.
Phase 2 will also include the renovations of four schools – Crestwood Elementary, Indian Hills Elementary, Seventh Street Elementary and Ridgeroad Elementary.
Phase 2 projects will begin in Fall 2014 with the design process.