The Greenwood School Board has OK’d the start of a process to build a proposed Freshman Center.
The board voted 7-0 for MAHG Architecture of Fort Smith to begin the architectural schematic process for a proposed Freshman Center on the high school campus, Superintendent John Ciesla said Friday.
Ciesla said a Freshman Center would benefit ninth-grade students by easing their transition into the high school environment, but also would help the space-crunched district in several ways. Many of the academic and auxiliary programs needed at the proposed center and high school could be shared, cutting costs. And the resultant reconfiguration of grades would ease the district’s space concerns for three or four more years, he said.
In a proposed grade reconfiguration, the junior high would house the seventh and eighth grades, the middle school would house fifth- and sixth-graders, and the elementary schools would house kindergarten through fourth grade, Ciesla said.
District administrators last reconfigured grades in 2010 after district voters twice declined school property tax millage increases proposed to fund building a new elementary school for the growing district.
"So hopefully this will be an opportunity once again to meet a need," Ciesla said.
Ciesla said the district submitted an application in February 2012 for Arkansas Department of Education facilities partnership funding for the proposed Freshman Center. The state approved the application in April for $2.28 million in funding, but no money was available then, Ciesla said.
District administrators who estimate the total cost for the center at $10 million to $12 million, depending on its scope, had asked ADE for about $6 million. Ciesla said the ADE awards partnership funds based on square-footage estimates.
He said district administrators are hopeful the money will be forthcoming in the May 2014 funding round from state turn-back money. They are planning ahead with the initial architectural work, he said.
According to an architect contract draft, the schematic design phase includes drawings, a site plan, possibly preliminary building plans and may include study models, perspective sketches or digital modeling as well as preliminary selections of major building systems and construction materials. The agreement draft includes instruction to consider environmentally responsible design alternatives, such as materials choices and building orientation.
MAHG projects include King Elementary School in the Van Buren School District. King was the first Arkansas school to achieve the environmentally friendly LEED for Schools Gold Certification and was designated the 2013 LEED Project of the Year by the U.S. Green Building Council Arkansas Chapter.
Other MAHG projects include the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center in Poteau, the Greenwood Veterans’ Memorial Square renovation and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Boreham Library expansion.