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Gravette board authorizes offer on property

by Susan Holland | October 19, 2021 at 8:28 a.m.

GRAVETTE -- Members of the Gravette school board met for a special work session Tuesday evening, Oct. 5, at the school administration building. All members were present except Jodi Moore. Others in attendance were superintendent of schools Maribel Childress, assistant superintendent Rebecca Sears and business manager Dennis Kurczek.

Superintendent Childress shared details of the "test to stay" pilot opportunity. The program permits students in danger of quarantine to be tested for covid and to remain in class if they do not test positive. Superintendent Childress reported that Gravette has a larger number of quarantines because they are doing an excellent job of tracing close contacts. She said, as of that day, 14 students were quarantined in the district. Only three of these were school-related; 11 were community-related. She said only those who were school-related would be eligible for testing. Gravette schools had 103 quarantined at its peak, which would have taken about three hours of testing.

Board member Robyn Lovell said she didn't like the idea, saying she felt school staff members were already overworked. Board president Jay Oliphant said he liked the idea and thought Gravette schools should sign up. After some discussion, board members voted to have superintendent Childress place the district on the waiting list for the pilot program and seek help from school nurses, assisted by the duty aides at each elementary school, to supervise the program. ESSER funds can be used to fund the program. Later that week, the Arkansas Department of Education selected the Bentonville, Cabot, Russellville and Springdale school districts to participate in the pilot.

Superintendent Childress then turned her attention to the consideration of purchasing property for future school expansion. She said she had been thinking about growth ever since she interviewed for the superintendent's position. She said Dr. Jim Rollins, superintendent of Springdale schools when she was there, was very forward-looking and was always looking for good sites for schools. She shared a form created from criteria used by Dr. Rollins when evaluating property for future expansion. The form covered various aspects for consideration, including affordability, location, infrastructure and development potential.

Childress said she recently found what she considered a perfect opportunity for growth, a possible investment site for a future school "to protect the future of the district." The property is a 30.37 acre site with approximately 1,020 feet of frontage on North Mt. Pleasant Road. Its location provides quick access to I-49 and it has "great development potential," Childress said. Board member Tim Craig, who is a real estate agent, shared some prices for listings on similar-sized properties in the area.

Childress said a special session had been called to discuss this property since the opportunity was available now and could be lost if the board waited until January to discuss future growth as originally planned.

President Oliphant reported that Benton County Realty has offered to serve as buyers' representative for the district and would do so at no charge. Some discussion ensued about the $400,000 in the budget earmarked for land from a previous millage increase. Business manager Kurczek said he felt it is prudent to buy land and that there should be $4,000,000 in the building fund by the end of this fiscal year.

After more discussion, board members voted unanimously to authorize Superintendent Childress to make an offer on the North Mt. Pleasant property contingent on board approval at the November regular board meeting. Four voting members voted to engage Benton County Realty to represent the district as buyer's agent for no or a nominal fee. Hope Duke and Tim Craig abstained from the vote because both are realtors. Since the school district's attorney could also serve as the buyer's representative for the purchase with no realtor fees, Attorney Ed McClure submitted the paperwork for the offer and acceptances instead of Benton County Realty.

Superintendent Childress asked the board members to keep their eyes and ears open and be on the lookout for other pieces of property that "make sense with the way Gravette's growing."

Print Headline: Gravette board authorizes offer on property

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