Population growth in the city and school district with rising costs of construction were the major topics shared by Mayor Nathan See and school superintendent Keith Martin to School Board members at a study session this past week.
Assistant superintendents Kevin Ramey and Anne Martfeld joined See, Martin and School Board members for a study session to look at numbers from the city and school regarding housing, estimated population growth in the near future and capacity in the current school facilities.
The school has five campuses. The buildings, with the grades served, capacity and current enrollment are:
Martin said the current student population is 2,455.
"We can probably handle about the 3,000-ish mark, if the numbers are perfect," he said.
The mayor presented information about growth in the city. According to the number of impact fees approved reflecting certificates of occupancy, See said there were 260 new homes for 2022 and 306 new homes for 2021, nearly triple the numbers for the four preceding years.
See said There are nine subdivisions being planned covering 481.88 acres and consisting of 1,498 lots. There are seven apartments, townhomes or townhomes planned on 31.52 acres providing 341 units.
"One thing you're going to start seeing is townhomes, apartments... those are a lot of numbers that can add up really quickly," Martin said. "Those bring in a lot more kids than single family dwellings."
Martin said the fact that city population is up about 2,000 people over the past 10 years reveals that many of the students being added are from within the city limits.
"That tells me our growth is within the city limits," Martin said. "We can see that. Roads are being cut now. Multi-family housing is going up."
In response to a question from board member Sarah Saragusa, Martin said the reason he requested the board to "re-up" the resolution about school choice was to keep a reserve for residents of the district and not go over capacity.
He said there are nine teachers for kindergarten which is at about 90% capacity.
"This is a great community to live in," Martin said. "It's evident that how the city grows is how we grow."
The mayor said both the construction of the Walmart home office on the east side of Bentonville and the excellent school system are drawing cards for people to settle in Pea Ridge.
"It's a great thing to have a good school system that has room to grow. All of these (the planned subdivisions and multi-family units) will be done in four years."
See said projections call for a million people in northwest Arkansas by 2045.
"We've got a lot of land.
"We have developers coming here buying," he said, adding that he just spoke with a company that has purchased Riggins Construction and that plans to build 800 homes in northwest Arkansas this year.
Martin said the board will meet again next month to continue looking at options to address the growth and the needs of the district.