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VIDEO: Few weeks left to wrap up school construction projects

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Photographs by David Gottschalk

Jon Purifoy, principal at Farmington High School, walks Friday past the school emblem on the floor in the new Farmington High School. Classes will be begin at the school this August.

Students who arrive on the first day of school next month will see new spaces across Benton and Washington counties.

A view of Osage Creek Elementary School under construction Friday in Bentonville.

Construction crews are busy finishing details on new buildings before turning them over to school officials. School maintenance and repair crews have fit projects within the short window between the last day of school and the start of a new school year.

New campuses for 2017-18

• Bentonville School District opening Osage Creek Elementary School and Creekside Middle School ($37 million)

• Farmington School District opening new 10th- through 12th-grade Farmington High School campus ($13 million)

• Haas Hall Academy opening sites in former Lane Hotel in Rogers and in The Jones Center in Springdale (Renovations paid by KLS Leasing, a Walton Family Foundation company)

• Rogers School District is moving Crossroads alternative education program to new space on North Second Street ($3.5 million)

Source: Staff report

Public and private schools will spend millions on larger building projects. New buildings are a response to growing enrollment, while other renovations refresh classrooms and make campuses more comfortable for students.

Fire officials tested fire alarms at the new the Farmington High School on Friday, with the sound of, "A fire has been reported in the building. Please proceed calmly to the nearest exist. Please do not use the elevators" heard inside and outside the building.

Furniture will be moved into the building this week, and Farmington High School Principal Jon Purifoy expects to get keys to the building at the beginning of August. School starts Aug. 16 in Farmington.

"We are so ready to get into that," Purifoy said. "We can't hardly wait."

Cabinetry, tables and white boards are up in classrooms. Tables, chairs, booths and some couches have been moved into the cafeteria. Anchor points for flat-screen televisions are up in the cafeteria.

Students will be able to watch the news, weather, The History Channel and sports at lunch, Purifoy said. Space above the media center is designed for students to have a place to charge cellphones and computers.

There will be classrooms designed for broadcasting sporting events, making sound recordings, welding and learning nursing skills and biomedical and engineering projects, he said.

"It's a lot of hands-on project-based learning," Purifoy said. "It's pretty amazing to see it live."

New schools in Bentonville

Osage Elementary and Creekside Middle schools are nearing completion for the start of school next month.

"Naturally, the opening of Osage Creek Elementary and Creekside Middle School are priority, but we also use this time to tend to projects across the district," district spokeswoman Leslee Wright said. "We want all students to enjoy a safe clean building when they return next month."

Projects on other campuses include painting hallways, replacing heating-and-air-conditioning units, installing new carpet and tile, sealing and stripping parking lots and roof repairs, Wright said. Plumbing and electrical work are taking place at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Old High Middle School and Bentonville High School.

The summer to-do list also includes projects for playgrounds, restrooms, fences, campus security, tree removal and lawn maintenance, equipment upgrades in school kitchens and the removal of portable buildings at Centerton Gamble Elementary School.

Updates, new buildings in Washington County

Crews in Fayetteville are installing air conditioning in the gyms at Ramay and Woodland junior high schools.

"It's going to have a big impact in making sure all the students will be able to practice in a gym that is air-conditioned," said John L Colbert, associate superintendent for support services.

Other projects in the Fayetteville School District this summer include remodeling the former Happy Hollow Elementary for Fayetteville Virtual Academy, the district's online charter school, to provide instruction for high school students. The road that carries traffic from Township to Vandergriff Elementary also is being resurfaced, spokesman Alan Wilbourn said.

Projects in Springdale include additions at Tyson and Walker elementary schools and construction of sports facilities at Springdale High School. Those projects will continue through early 2018, Springdale Deputy Superintendent Jared Cleveland said.

The New School in Fayetteville also looks forward to the completion of three new buildings that will provide additional space for its expansion into a high school. The oldest class will be sophomores this school year

Basketball goals were hung Wednesday, and floors are being installed in the new athletic center, one of three projects wrapping up at The New School, Head of School Dennis Chapman said. Work on glass and drywall continue in the new 9,000-square-foot innovation center.

The innovation center will act as a centerpiece for the campus with spaces for students to work with their hands, including in a robotics classroom, two computer science labs, a wood shop and a "maker space."

White boards are up in classrooms in the academic center, Chapman said. Tours are planned Tuesday night during a school block party.

"It's a lot of activity now," he said. "It'll be fast and furious the next few weeks leading up to the first day of school."

More renovations

The Rogers School District is working to finish three major projects for the 2017-18 school year. Renovations are ongoing inside what has been known as The Annex, said Charles Lee, assistant superintendent for general administration for Rogers School District. Rogers New Technology High School will occupy the entire building for the 2017-18 school year, Lee said. Work includes renovations of the commons area and administration area for Rogers New Technology.

The district's charter high school had shared space with the Crossroads alternative education program. The Crossroads program is moving to a new space on North Second Street.

Sheetrock is up at Crossroads, Lee said.

Equipment has been removed and floors are being redone during a remodeling project of the career center at Rogers Heritage High School, he said.

Buildings in Rogers and Springdale are being prepared for two new Haas Hall Academy sites. Haas Hall Academy will open in the former Lane Hotel in Rogers and in The Jones Center in Springdale. Haas Hall also has campuses in Fayetteville and Bentonville.

KLS Leasing is funding the renovations, said Luis Gonzalez, a spokesman for Walton Family Foundation. The renovation process at the Lane Hotel is 90 percent complete, and the building has passed final inspections.

In The Jones Center site, Haas Hall will occupy the same space that held the Springdale School District's School of Innovation, said Martin Schoppmeyer, founder and superintendent of Haas Hall Academy. Haas Hall needed more of a traditional classroom setting, so renovations there provide for more bathrooms, 13 instructional spaces, six offices, a teacher preparation area and two commons areas for students.

Schoppmeyer's goal is to prepare students for college, he said.

"I'm just thrilled that some people want to come to Haas Hall and that we're able to expand," he said. "It's been a lot of work to get here."

Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers on Monday will demolish a cinder block building that once housed Sunday school classes at the former home of Immanuel Baptist Church, said Mary Ley, chief executive of the charter school. The high school has occupied the former church. The building removal comes ahead of the construction of two new buildings with a glass atrium that will connect them.

The academy's 600 ninth- through 12th-graders will meet for class in portable buildings, in the performing arts center and office areas, Ley said.

"It's a big project," she said.

NW News on 07/17/2017

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