Van Buren School District will receive $5.3 million in state funding to help construct an elementary school on the north side of Interstate 40.

Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat informed the board of education at a called meeting Thursday that the Arkansas Facilities Division approved the district’s request on Thursday. VBSD had requested $9.3 million, he said.

“We would have loved to have had more, but we are happy a new elementary school has been approved and funded,” Jeffcoat said.

The district has 18 months to enter into a contract for construction and 48 months to complete the school, which is estimated to cost about $12 million.

“Our goal is to finish a lot sooner,” Jeffcoat pointed out.

Up first, the superintendent said, is the purchase of land for the district’s seventh elementary school.

“We will have to have 10 acres per 100 students, plus one acre for every 100 additional students,” Jeffcoat said. “So, we will need about 15 acres for a 500-student school, adequate parking, nice playground and stacking lanes to avoid parking problems.”

Van Buren only has two schools north of the interstate - Northridge Middle School and Rena Elementary School. The other elementary schools are Central, City Heights, King, Parkview and Tate.

The district also had requested $10 million for roofing, plumbing and heating and air renovations. All those projects were denied funding, Jeffcoat said.

“We already have been working on some of these projects and will continue to do so,” Jeffcoat said. “Anything that can wait will be put on hold until we can reapply for partnership funds in two years.”