Benton School Board OKs $3.9 million baseball field project

Dana Guthrie
Staff Writer

The Benton School Board unanimously voted Monday to approve a bid of just under $4 million from Nabholz Construction to relocate the Panthers’ baseball field.

“It will be located at the athletic complex at the space just behind the softball field,” said Benton School District Plant Manager Kevin Chastain. “It is a 39-week project. There is a $150,000 contingency built into it and total cost of $3,910,304.”
Chastain also told the board that by relocating the baseball field, the old area will be available to build new classrooms.

“If that is what the board so choses to do, we have been approved by the (Arkansas) Department of Education for a match of over $3 million for that project if we so choose to pursue it.”
Board member Jeff Morrow stated that new buildings constructed in the vacated green space would be part of a phase two of the expansion from the middle school to either a ninth-grade academy or middle school or junior high expansion.

Assistant Superintendent Lita Gattis said that the matching funds and phase two expansion that Morrow and Chastain referenced in the meeting was in regard to a facilities plan that has been in discussion since Jeff Collum was superintendent. His last year serving in that role was 2016.

“That ninth-grade academy was part of a 10-year facilities plan that went before the Arkansas Department of Education for partnership funding,” Gattis said. “Not that we will do that. We could do that that. It is one option for the green space.”
“As we continue to grow as the numbers lead us into that direction, we definitely need that green space,” Morrow said.

Morrow also stated that as the board reviewed the bid in the days leading up to the vote, the bid itself seemed very competitive.
“It was probably one of the most well-tended bids we’ve had in years,” Chastain said. “The interest in this project was huge.”

Items in the bid include:
•A scoreboard allowance of $60,000.
•350 cubic yards of undercut allowance per soils report.
•Weather delays based on NOAA.
•Temporary power by owner.
•No design fee.
•Testing cost provided by the school.

Financing for the project is expected to include private donations.

“We are pursing a campaign of sort with private donations,” Morrow said. “We will give the general public the opportunity to donate private funds. That is being discussed and worked through with the administration as well.”

Board member Jackie Sasfai asked for confirmation from the board that the cost for the project is part of the board’s initial plan to use bond extension money and not a new money request.

“That is correct,” Morrow said.
A start date for the project has not been set.

All meetings are open to the public.