The old middle/junior high school buildings in downtown Jacksonville could be demolished in July or August in preparation for the planned $65 million Jacksonville High School and $15.6 million elementary school.
Tony Wood, superintendent of the new Jacksonville North Pulaski School District, said the high school would open in 2019-20. He said he hopes the elementary school will open earlier, by August 2018.
Construction is set to begin in summer 2017, Wood said.
The high school, without athletic facilities, will be slightly under 259,000 SF, he said. The elementary school will be slightly under 80,000 SF.
WER Architects/Planners of Little Rock is the architect. Wood said the firm’s past successes include Chenal Elementary School in west Little Rock, Conway High School and the Esther D. Nixon Library in Jacksonville.
Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock is the construction manager, he said.
The lowest bid of $293,131 was accepted from Gerken Environmental Enterprises Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, for asbestos removal at the middle/junior high school buildings at 1320 School Drive, off West Main Street.
Both schools have been approved for state partnership funding, which is based on the district’s wealth index, but whether they are funded will be announced in May 2017, Wood said.
He expects the projects to be funded. If the wealth index doesn’t change, the state will pay $21.9 million for the high school and $7.1 million for the elementary school, Wood said.
Those figures could change based on student enrollment, which is also part of that formula, he said.
Wood said the district’s plans are to bid the projects in June or July 2017.
The district plans to sell bonds, backed by a 7.6-mill property tax increase voters approved in February, after the May 2017 announcement of partnership funding.
The district will also use funds from the desegregation settlement to pay for the news schools. It will receive $5.4 million in both 2016-17 and 2017-18, Wood said, but will have just $4.75 million left over that first year because a payment to the Donaldson scholarship fund is due. The second year’s $5.4 million must be spent on facilities, he said.
Wood also said the district expects funding from the Department of Defense for the new elementary school that will replace Arnold Drive and Tolleson elementary schools. Arnold Drive is on Little Rock Air Force Base, and Tolleson is less than a mile from one of its gates.