Architects are working with the construction manager for the floor plan for the Van Buren School District’s new 60,000-square-foot elementary school on Northridge Drive.

Michael LeJong and Tim Varner of MAHG Architecture told members of the Van Buren School Board on Tuesday that the two-story elementary school will house about 450 students and include more parking than other schools in the district.

LeJong said MAHG will present preliminary designs to Nabholz Construction within three weeks for the school to be located on a 21-acre site north of Interstate 40.

Classrooms will be located on both the first and second floors, LeJong said. Classrooms will be on one end of the building with offices, cafeteria and gymnasium on the other end, he said.

Varner said the planning process is still on schedule despite the recent cold weather.

“We certainly are off to a good start,” said Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat. “We are looking forward to taking the next step.”

LeJong said MAHG will have an update at the Feb. 12 board meeting.

The new school is estimated to cost about $12 million. The Arkansas Facilities Division 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 and have students in the classrooms by August 2019. Construction of the yet-unnamed school is expected to take 12-14 months.

Also at the meeting, the school board recognized the Van Buren High School cheer team and its sponsor Danielle Ross.

Cheer captains Katie Risley and Kinzie Copeland were on hand to highlight the cheer season which has resulted in several first and second place finishes highlighted by a second-place finish in state where they competed against 96 teams.

Randy Loyd, athletic and student services director, updated the board on the VBHS basketball teams which recently played in tournaments over the Christmas break.

Activities director Drew Cone reported on the district effort through a joint-use agreement with the City of Van Buren to redo the walking trail at Rena Elementary School.

Over the Christmas break, crews cleared the former walking trail, uncovering a gazebo and a collapsed fence.

Cone said he plans to submit an application for a $30,000 joint-use partnership grant to complete the renovation for the benefit of both the school and community.