Batesville Schools hold town-hall on Central repurposing, other future plans

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Batesville School District (BSD) officials presented part of their proposed strategic plan to a capacity crowd at the Batesville Community Center last night. BSD superintendent Dr. Michael Hester, along with deputy superintendents Gary Anderson and Jennifer Douglas, led the town hall-style meet to specifically address the “Elementary Strategic Planning” options that plan to reduce the overall building footprint of the district and save an estimated $1 million in yearly expenses.  

The first option will have the preschool students moving from the Batesville Preschool Center to the Central campus, which is currently attended by kindergarten through sixth-grade students. The current Central students, staff, and administration would be moved and distributed to the other three campuses — Eagle Mountain, Sulphur Rock, and West  — by August of 2018. The current preschool would stay open for one more year while rooms and the playground at Central are renovated for an opening of August of 2019.  

The district’s second option would also repurpose Central to become the new Preschool Center and would have kindergarten through third grades at Eagle Mountain and West with a focus on reading, then grades fourth and fifth would be housed at the Sulphur Rock location where all the magnet offerings will be available to all children. The timeline for this option would be completed by August of 2019 where Central would remain a magnet for the 2018-19 school year and the new Preschool Center would open in August of 2020 after renovations at the Central campus.

The Eagle Mountain, Sulphur Rock, and West campuses can collectively hold 1,500 students. The plan also calls for moving the sixth graders to the junior high and the ninth graders to the high school next year so those remaining elementary campuses will be able to accommodate the restructuring.

Anderson told the crowd choosing Central as the school to be repurposed was primarily about space.

“It is small. It is locked there. There is no more space,” Anderson said. “All of the other campuses have more space and capacity, much more by reconfiguring in their buildings.”

Magnet transfer request forms for current Central students would likely go out in mid-January if the board approves the Central repurposing this year. If the decision is not made until next month, the forms would then likely go out in late January or early February. The approximate timeline for Central students having a new home would be August of 2018, according to deputy superintendent Jennifer Douglas. Campus tours and orientations would be planned for each magnet campus.

Parents and concerned citizens are encouraged to go online to the district website at batesvilleschools.org and click on the FAQ or frequently asked questions tab, for more information.

Another BSD town hall is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. at the Batesville Community Center, 1240 S. 20th St. to address proposed plans for the junior and senior high schools.

Listen for this and other local news on Ozark Newsline, every weekday on Arkansas 103.3, 93 KZLE and other W.R.D. Entertainment radio stations. More on this story along with comments from BSD superintendent Dr. Michael Hester can be heard tomorrow on The Official Word, broadcast around 9 a.m., on 93 KZLE. Sponsored by First Community Bank.

Pic of last night’s meeting by Randy Seale

 

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