January 11, 2016—The Little Rock School District is moving forward with the planning, design and construction of a new middle school in west Little Rock and a new high school in southwest Little Rock. The former board of the Little Rock School District envisioned both projects in the broader context of a millage increase and bond issue. However, LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus and administrative staff now believe both projects can be planned, designed, constructed and equipped using existing revenues. Superintendent Kurrus is appointing a committee to choose architects for both projects with their work beginning immediately.
The new west Little Rock middle school will open this fall at the Leisure Arts location for sixth graders with grades 7-8 added in subsequent years. Temporary space for the sixth grade will be provided in the office building while the district begins the process of converting the large warehouse into the permanent middle school facility to accommodate students as they move up. Land and improvements are now under contract for $11,500,000 with a total estimated cost of $15,000,000 to $19,000,000 for the conversion, a new gymnasium, furniture and equipment. The expected enrollment for fall 2016 will be 250-300 sixth graders.
The planning and design phase for the new southwest Little Rock high school will also begin immediately on the $1,372,000 Richsmith Lane property previously purchased with the approval of the former LRSD board of directors. The exact size, scope and cost of the southwest Little Rock high school will be defined through the planning and design process. A large, new, state-of-the-art high school could have a total cost of around $85 million compared to a cost of $19-31 million to refurbish McClellan High School, and will have the capacity to serve the 2,700 students who live in southwest Little Rock.