by Max Brantley
The University of Arkansas has announced that it has withdrawn its $50 million offer for the Fayetteville High School campus. But it says it might reconsider purchase in the future. The Fayetteville School Board has been locked in a debate over whether to build a new high school or improve the existing campus, which is a neighbor to UA. A number of people, including Sen. Sue Madison, had objected to the UA purchase offer.
UPDATE: On jump, school district statement. Essentially, no comment.
UA NEWS RELEASE
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas has withdrawn its offer to the Fayetteville Board of Education to purchase the adjacent 40-acre property containing the buildings and grounds of Fayetteville High School.
The university had complied with a July 1 deadline for submitting its formal offer of $50 million to the school board, but no action has been taken on that offer in the ensuing weeks. Verbal indication has been made to the university from school board representatives that no action is likely to be taken on the offer for several more months.
Given these circumstances, the university has taken this time to re-evaluate the strategic value in devoting such significant resources toward this property, and concluded its resources may be better invested in its existing physical plant.
“We have always maintained that the purchase is a long-term investment decision, the fruits of which would not be fully realized for 25 to 50 years,” said University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart in a letter to Steve Percival, president of the Fayetteville Board of Education. “We have reached a point in this process at which we need to turn our attention toward exploring other strategic initiatives and facilities upgrades. To ignore these other priorities while in a long-term holding pattern over the high school offer would be fiscally irresponsible and compromise our ability to move the institution forward in the best interests of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our alumni.”
Gearhart acknowledged in the letter that while the university wishes to remain a good neighbor and would consider acceptable terms of purchase for the property at a later point, the university is proceeding as though the purchase of the high school property is not in its future plans.
SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—Fayetteville School District superintendent Dr. Bobby New
released the following statement today regarding the University of Arkansas’s
withdrawal of their offer to purchase Fayetteville High School:
“The Fayetteville School District administration understands and appreciates the
autonomous authority of the University of Arkansas and the chancellor in their decision
making process. However, public school districts and boards of education work much
differently in how they resolve major issues.
“Therefore, the Fayetteville School District administration will not comment publicly on
the recent University of Arkansas press release until specific direction is established by
the Fayetteville Board of Education. We strongly support the professionalism and
meticulous manner in which the Fayetteville Board of Education has approached
building a 21st century high school. The Board has spent many hours gathering
information from the public and the Future of Fayetteville High School Select
Committees I and II in order to reach a quality decision regarding the critical direction of
education for our current and future high school students.
“Any decision on the future of FHS will include consideration of all of the district’s capital
needs. The administration is prepared to support the Fayetteville Board of Education’s
direction concerning a capital improvement plan that they feel is in the best interest of
the Fayetteville School District.