Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Future of Fayetteville High School

The Future of Fayetteville High School Select Committee 2 will hold its first public comment session on the location of FHS at 6: 30 p. m. this evening in the Ramay Junior High cafeteria.

The first priority in deciding upon a location should be the best interests of the students in obtaining an outstanding education. We share the
Fayetteville School District’s goal of strengthening the partnership with the University of Arkansas, and that means advancing the best interests of the students at both institutions. Our position, like that of the Fayetteville City Council and the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods, is that we should build a world-class facility on the current site adjacent to the University of Arkansas.

The best interests of the students can be determined by a number of factors, some of which also involve the interests of our members. The current central location is especially convenient for our faculty and staff who have children attending high school, as well as for nontraditional students and single parents enrolled at the University. The current location allows high school students to walk to the University campus or the Fayetteville Public Library until their parents finish work or classes. Building a new high school in a remote location would weaken this bond and add concern for parents who would be unable to pickup and supervise the activities of their children to enhance their education or assure their safety.

The second point of concern is that the
University of Arkansas has proposed buying the current campus with no idea of how it would be used or even why it is needed. Vice Chancellor Pederson has proposed to issue approximately $60 million in bonds to be paid off by raising student tuition by $1,100 per student for the next 30 years. When we have staff members working at wages below the federal poverty level, female employees paid less than their male colleagues, and all faculty paid less than the regional average, purchasing unneeded property by increasing tuition cannot even remotely be considered the first funding priority for our University.

The University budget will be further endangered by raising tuition for this speculative real estate transaction. The University has millions of dollars for full scholarships for hundreds of athletes and for Chancellor's Scholars, but it has a miniscule budget for need-based scholarships, those that go to the nontraditional returning students and the children of middle class working families who seek a better education to improve their lives. Raising tuition on those who can least afford it will result in some students having to drop out for financial reasons. That is a significant problem in itself, but it will also impact the University by a loss of tuition revenue and a reduction in state funding based on enrollment and graduation rates.

We oppose the sale of the centrally-located campus of the
Fayetteville High School, and we support the proposal of UA Professor Tim Kring, a member of the School Board, to construct a world-class facility on the current campus. Attend tonight's meeting if you can, or sign the petition to support rebuilding on the present campus adjacent to the University.

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