Members of the Van Buren School Board heard updates on construction projects during Tuesday night’s monthly meeting.

Michael LeJong and Tim Varner of MAHG Architecture reported on the district’s renovation of the Van Buren School District track facility and high school cafeteria and outlined the planning of the district’s new elementary school.

“We have worked very hard to get where we are with the track and cafeteria renovation,” said Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, superintendent. “We are looking to get started as soon as possible.”

Jeffcoat said the district would like to have the track ready for meets before the end of the 2017-18 school year.

The new track to the west of the high school on Pointer Trail will include a concession stand, restrooms and an area for storage to be located adjacent to the VBHS safe room.

“This will be a total renovation,” Varner said. “We will lower the grade to make it more user friendly, resurface the track and erect a permanent structure to be used as a ticket booth, providing a nice entrance.”

Varner pointed out there will be extensive drainage work to provide for future renovation.

Jeffcoat said the cafeteria will be redesigned to more efficiently serve an increasing number of high school students in the allotted time.

“It will be about moving people through lunch lines in a designated time, with food courts featuring different items,” Jeffcoat said.

Work on the cafeteria is expected to begin around Thanksgiving and be spread over two months to minimize the impact of the construction.

Cost of the track renovation is estimated at $1.6 million while the cafeteria redesign is expected to be about $400,000, Jeffcoat said.

Meanwhile, MAHG Architecture is working with Nabholz Construction on plans for the district’s new 500-student school on a 21-acre site north of Interstate 40.

“We have started the preliminary site planning,” Lejong told the board.

The new school on Northridge Drive will be about 60,000 square feet and is estimated to cost about $12 million. In April, the Arkansas Facilities Division announced it had approved $5.3 million in state funding to help construct VBSD’s seventh elementary school.

As part of the state requirements, the district has 18 months to enter into a contract for construction and 48 months to complete the school.

Jeffcoat said previously the district hopes to begin dirt work in March 2018 and have students in the classrooms by August 2020. Construction of the yet-unnamed school is expected to take 14 months.

The board also:

• Approved a 2017-18 budget that includes $64,912,670 in revenues and $58,276,884 in expenditures.

• Hired Melissa Glory a classroom teacher at Central Elementary School, Hope Barr as Title I para professional at Van Buren High School, Kimberli Murdock as media specialist at Izard Center for Learning, Alex Bowen as night custodian at VBHS, Sherri Carter as teacher’s aide at Butterfield Trail Middle School, Aaron Cobb as special education aide technician at Northridge Middle School and Dana Goodman as bus aide.

• Accepted the resignations of Phil Purney as special education aide technician at Northridge, effective Sept. 15; Cheryl Gatling as assistant to the activities director, effective Dec. 20; and Jason Harris as building engineer at VBHS, effective Sept. 29.

Jeffcoat reported to the board that enrollment as of Sept. 12 was 5,818, up 51 students from last year’s enrollment of 5,767. Thirty-eight students are enrolled in the River Valley Virtual Academy with two going through orientation.