The vision for where the next generation of students will go to school in Fayetteville and what new facilities are needed became a little more clear this month.
Woodland Junior High could be relocated to east Fayetteville, the new John L. Colbert middle school could become a junior high school, and Ramay Junior High could also eventually be moved under a new plan endorsed by Fayetteville Superintendent John Mulford.
Mulford made his recommendation to the School Board on a plan that would redraw school attendance boundaries to help alleviate overcrowding at McNair Middle School, as well as balance demographics within the district, and allow students to stay together from elementary school through high school.
In a board workshop held before the regular board meeting on Thursday, Mulford endorsed his choice of one of five proposals he presented in December. The five redrawn boundary options were developed with help from consulting firm, MGT.
Mulford said he favors the scenario previously dubbed “B2,” and the board agreed to continue to pursue that proposal.
The new plan would create what Mulford described as a “feeder pattern” designed to keep students together as they moved through the district from elementary school and beyond.
Under the “B2” scenario, students from Leverett, Washington, Root and Happy Hollow would move through middle school, junior high, and high school together, while students from Holcomb would be similarly grouped with Owl Creek students. Students from Butterfield, Asbell and Vandergriff would make up the third group.
Holcomb/Owl Creek elementary students would go to Holt Middle School, and the newly built John L. Colbert middle school would be converted into a junior high to serve these students.
Students going to Leverett, Washington, Root and Happy Hollow elementary schools would go to a new middle school to be established in the building currently home to Woodland Junior High, and on to Ramay for junior high school. Ramay would eventually be relocated in a future phase to a new building more centrally located, Mulford said.
Butterfield, Asbell and Vandergriff students would go to McNair for Middle School, and a relocated Woodland Junior High that would need to be built somewhere else.
Estimated enrollment under the B2 proposal would have 577 students in the McNair/Woodland group, 610 in the new middle school/Ramay group, and 462 in the Holt/Colbert group.
The district conducted focus groups of teachers and staff, as well as of PTO presidents from each school in the district, and the B2 proposal was also favored by those groups, according to data presented at the board meeting Thursday.
Relocating Woodland Junior High
The board last month authorized Mulford to pursue land for the relocated Woodland Junior High, and that led to property at 3134 E. Joyce Blvd. near the intersection of Crossover Road.
Mulford said the district made an offer of $4.6 million on the 28-acre property that was accepted by the sellers, contingent on final board approval. The deal has a 90-day due diligence period, he said, and soil studies and other testing on the property is currently underway.
The district looked at about a half dozen properties before selecting the land on Joyce Boulevard.
The construction of the new Woodland Junior High, as well as work to convert John L. Colbert to a junior high school would be paid for through second-lien bonds which would not require a public vote for a millage increase, though voters could eventually need to approve an extension of the existing bonds by about eight years through 2058 depending on final costs for the projects and other factors.
The School Board is expected to make a final decision on the plan at their regularly scheduled meeting in March before the due diligence period on the current contract expires.
“Our hope is on Feb. 29 we would have the board vote on approving the purchase of this property,” Mulford said.
If approved, construction on the new Woodland Junior High would start later this year, and could be open in time for the 2027-28 school year.