Southside School District evaluates original building

By Amanda Hanson  - bio | email feedback

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A little over a year ago, Southside School District in Batesville opened the doors of its new elementary school. Monday, crews were out tearing down the old elementary school buildings. All the buildings but one, the school's original building.

The original Southside School building was built in 1948 when the school was founded. It's a structure holding a lot of memories. While the building is still standing now, the district is turning to the community to figure out if they should restore the facility or tear it down.

"It's home," says Fred Denison, a student in the original Southside School building. "I went to school here for 12 years. I came back and taught here for 38 years, and there's 50 years of my life right there," he says.

For the past four years Denison has been on the school board. On Monday, crews began tearing down the old elementary school, but the original school building remained untouched.

"I'd say most of our teachers that work for us, I'd say about 50% of them, went to school here," says Southside School District Superintendent Roger Rich.

"It's been a good building, it's served us well. It is a very sentimental building for a lot of people," he says. But, maintaining these memories is expensive. The district is in the process of talking to community members to find out how to move forward. Should they restore the building or tear it down? "The next step is someone will have to step up to the plate and help financially. It's the most inefficient building we have on campus. Everybody wants to see it stay around in some form or fashion," Rich says.

In the meantime, the building is being used for storage, and the district is keeping an open mind. "Either a community center, the Historical Society possibly taking it over and making a museum out of it, our using it as storage. We have a lot of ideas, but we're going to continue visiting and see where to go from there," says Rich.

The district is also interested in building a new high school, where the old elementary school was located.

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