School board approves purchase of land for relocation of Woodland schools

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The Fayetteville Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase of property near the corner of Joyce Boulevard and Crossover Road for the construction of a relocated Woodland Junior High School.

The district entered into an agreement to purchase the property at 3134 E. Joyce Blvd. for $4.6 million in January, and officials have been been conducting traffic studies, geotechnical soil studies, and gathering other information as part of a 90-day due diligence period specified in the contract that expires on March 19.

The board scheduled Tuesday’s special meeting to make a final decision on whether to buy the property before the March 19 deadline after receiving results of the studies. Superintendent John Mulford said he was satisfied with the results, and recommended the board move forward with the purchase.

Mulford said that improvements to East Joyce Boulevard could improve access to the property and alleviate some of the traffic concerns at the intersection.

As part of the traffic study, engineers recommended three lanes for Joyce Boulevard on the east side of Crossover for motorists as they approach the intersection; a left turn late, a lane that goes straight through the intersection, and a right turn-only lane. Engineers also recommended adding a right turn-only lane from north-bound traffic on Crossover onto Joyce to access the property where the new school would be located.

Mulford said he has learned in regular meetings with Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan that improvements to the Joyce and Crossover intersection are already on the city’s radar, though no specific financial commitments have been made on the city’s behalf for the project.

The district would be required to build a road through the new property, Mulford said, which he estimated would cost about $2 million.

The board earlier this month approved a proposal to organize schools into a “feeder pattern” that would keep students together from elementary school through high school. Other goals of the plan included helping to alleviate overcrowding of McNair Middle School, while also balancing enrollment and demographic groups across the district.

Relocating Woodland Junior High to east Fayetteville is part of the new feeder plan. Also as part of the reorganization, the new John L. Colbert Middle School would become a junior high school, and Ramay Junior High would also eventually be moved to a new location more central to the elementary districts it would serve (though no specific location for a relocated Ramay has been identified.)

Students from Leverett, Washington, Root and Happy Hollow would be grouped 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, while John L. Colbert Middle School would be converted into a junior high to serve these students.

Students at 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.

Butterfield, Asbell and Vandergriff students will go to McNair for Middle School, and the relocated Woodland Junior High.

Board member Justin Eichmann moved the board approve the purchase of the Joyce Boulevard property, and the board voted 7-0 to approve the motion.

Modus selected as architect for Woodland project

Mulford also announced that the district has hired local firm, Modus Studio, as the architect for the Woodland Junior High project.

The firm’s experience in building net-zero projects, including several school projects around the country, was a factor in selecting the firm, Mulford said.

“One of the primary reasons (we selected Modus) is that as we move forward with new facilities, we are really trying to have a sustainability focus on our buildings, and our desire is that any new facility we build is a net-zero facility,” he said. “Modus was really able to show experience in that realm…and we felt they would be the best firm to start us down this path.”

Construction on the new Woodland Junior High is tentatively scheduled to start later this year, with the hope that it will be complete in time for the 2027-28 school year.