Students from Mount Pleasant and Melbourne will be sharing a high school in the future as the former separate school districts continue the process of merging into one.
The new high school will be located on Lacrosse Road near the former Boeing Plant. The Melbourne Industrial Development Committee donated the land which the school will be built on. Construction began with a May 2 groundbreaking at the site.
"It will be a complete high school campus. We want to provide the community with a state-of-the-art education for students," Melbourne Superintendent Gerald Cooper said. The new building will be 118,000 square feet to include 35 classrooms, science and math wings, a student union, a band room, a choir room, a business department and home economics section.
It will also have technology laboratories and house the administrative offices. Cooper said he hopes the high school will be completed during the 2007-2008 school year.
Cooper said he saw the need for a new school building shortly after the Melbourne School District annexed the Mount Pleasant School District in June of 2004. "We started discussing the need immediately," Cooper said.
The construction of the school is expected to cost approximately $8 million, Cooper said. He said the building will be paid for by a bond issue and a 47-percent ($3.8 million) reimbursement from the state of Arkansas, which will also pay for overrun costs. The balance will be paid for through local taxes.
Edwards Brothers Construction of Violet Hill is excavating the site and the water relocation is being done by Jowers Construction of Blythville, Ark. There has not been a bid for the construction of building yet, but Cooper said he expects one by the end of the May. Bob Bailey of Bailey and Associates in Little Rock drew the architectural plans for the building, he said.
Cooper said the site for the new high school was chosen because it is a central location within city limits. The school will have access to city utilities and will be close to the city ballfield. A football field and track are also expected to be part of the new campus.
Cooper said he would like the buildings on the old campus to be available to the community after the students move to the new high high school.
"When you lose a school district it's kind of sad," Cooper said, adding that it's very hard for some students and parents.
The decision to construct a new high school was decided by the voters when they passed an 8.95-mill increase in September of 2005.