School board to talk Facility Master Plan at luncheon

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

The construction of new facilities for Arkadelphia Public Schools will a topic of discussion this week as the Board of Education holds a luncheon at Arkadelphia High School.

According to documents provided to The Arkadelphian, planned capital projects to be discussed include the construction of a new primary school for grades 3-5, converting a new elementary facility for use as a K-4 school, a security project at Goza Middle School, and replacing the high school building with a new two-story facility.

The luncheon is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 11:45 a.m., at Arkadelphia High School.

New Elementary School
The capital project detail for a new elementary school, grades 3-5, will affect the current Central Primary School (including administration and custodial buildings) and Peake Elementary School (including the main facility, Building 2, maintenance and storage and the gymnasium).

The project scope states that, for “financial efficiency”, the district had planned to close and demolish both Central and Peake during the 2020-2021 school year, housing students in grades 3-5 at the old Goza Middle School. While the students have been moved to other campuses, facilities on the old campuses have yet to be razed. The old Goza building is expected to be demolished once the new 65,000 square-foot elementary school is finished.

The Arkadelphia Public Schools Administration building and Central Primary School will eventually be demolished.

It’s noted that “although this project replaces existing elementary schools, no demolitions are directly associated with this project.” 

“All of the district’s elementary schools are in very poor condition, past their expected 50-year life cycles and have building and campus values less than zero,” the project justification notes. The demolition and replacement of all three existing elementary schools was approved in a previously funded project.

Construction on that $16 million project is expected to begin June 2022 and completed by July 2023. 

Goza Middle School
Supplied documents on a $50,000 security project at the new Goza campus indicate that project was completed in August. The project included 17 doors with intruder lockets, and electronic access control added to those doors. The new middle school already has 71 surveillance cameras.

Elementary School additions
The project scope for new elementary school additions notes the new school will be converted to a K-4 school, with students in fifth grade moving to the new Goza campus. The American Rescue Plan/ Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief will fund the $8 million project, which entails 35,000 square-feet of construction.

The addition project will be designed and constructed as part of the new school project under one contract.

Construction is slated to begin in June 2022, with completion by August 2023.

Arkadelphia High School
Construction of a new high school to replace the facility built in 1972 comes with a $25.5 million price tag, funded through bonds already secured. Construction on the new two-story, 120,000 square-foot AHS campus is projected to begin in March 2025; completion would take an expected year and a half.

The district notes in its justification of the project that the existing facility is in need of a new roof, HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and that “most classrooms are undersized and don’t meet the 850 square-foot requirement.”