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Debate Heats Up Over New Land For McClellan High School

School board members talk about plans to build a new high school in the Little Rock School District.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Tempers heated up at the Little Rock School Board meeting tonight as the discussions centered around buying land for a new school.

Everyone at the meeting seemed to agree McClellan High School isn't in great shape and some changes need to be made, but that's about where the agreements ended.

Since early this year, the school board's been talking about what to do for the high school.

Board members eventually decided to rebuild it.

But people in the audience said they never were a part of that discussion and they don't agree with that decision.

The new site off of Mabelvale Pike is just more than three miles away from the current school.

People who live in the area, say the new site is too far away and most kids -- normally walking to school -- would then have to ride buses.

But that's just one issue that led up to fireworks at the board meeting.

Board Member Michael Nellums asked people in the audience if they ever heard of a school district deciding to buy land for a new school before doing a study on the old school.

School Board President Dianne Curry called his question to the audience inappropriate and tried to regain control of the meeting.

But, Nellums walked out of the meeting and didn't return for several minutes.

Nellums along with some of the people in the audience, don't want the school district to move forward with plans to buy land off Mabelvale Pike for the new high school.

Pam Adcock with Southwest United for Progress says, "Every child that attends there right now would have to be bussed because it's outside the attendance zone."

Adcock says the district should rebuild McLellan High School in the same place it's at now.

She says then, kids wouldn't be stretched out too far.

She said, "It's doable. Why they don't want to do it is beyond me."

Board President Dianne Curry says they've looked at several options including rebuilding the school on the same land.

But, she, along with other staff members say doing that would interrupt students learning and may not be the best idea.

But, Curry's willing to work things out.

She said, "We're willing to meet our public half way."

A closing date on the property has already been set for later this month.

Because of public concern though, the school board did vote to try and push back the closing date to the end of July.

But, at this point, they don't know if the seller will approve that option.

So, for now, it's a waiting game.

The property the district is looking at is about 56 acres and would cost $1.3 million.

The school board president says it would take years to finish building the new school if that's the option they decide to go with.

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