Skip to main content

Project: Arkansas Community-Engaged School Design

In recent years the education landscape in Bentonville, Arkansas, has shifted, offering both challenges and possibilities. As families explored various learning options and attendance declined, Bentonville Schools, in collaboration with the Region 14 Comprehensive Center, launched an innovative project to revitalize a downtown elementary school. This initiative aims to empower the community by engaging them in the school’s redesign, fostering a sense of investment, and ensuring the school model aligns with the evolving needs of the local families, students, and partners.


The Need

The Region 14 Comprehensive Center (R14CC) is supporting Bentonville Schools’ administrators with redesigning a downtown elementary school. The goal is to entice more parents to choose to send their children to that school, thereby lessening the strain on resources in other district schools and better addressing the community’s needs.

R14CC is coordinating needs sensing and school design teams to assist Bentonville Schools with the design and implementation of the elementary school redesign.


Our Approach

Needs Sensing

To identify the core needs and aspirations of the community, the R14CC team:

  • Engaged community members, parents, and educators: Through comprehensive surveys and insightful focus groups, R14CC actively listened to diverse perspectives and gathered valuable feedback.   

  • Researched successful models: R14CC contacted innovative schools across the country that resonated with the Bentonville community and district. Virtual and in-person visits enabled the team to learn from real-world experiences, both the successes and challenges, to inform the design process.  

This approach laid a strong foundation not only for this project specifically but also for potential future redesigns of other downtown elementary schools.


Data-driven Design 

The district identified successful school models from around the country to learn from their frameworks and experiences. This approach ensured that the redesign process was informed by proven practices, potentially increasing the likelihood of success in addressing attendance disparities and improving the overall educational experience for students in Bentonville.

By actively involving community members, parents, and educators through community input surveys and focus groups, Bentonville Schools integrated a variety of perspectives, enhancing the responsiveness of the redesign process to the community’s needs.


Advancing Forward

The district’s commitment to understanding the root issues through community input surveys, focus groups, and continuous improvement based on feedback underscored their dedication to creating a solution that responds to the community’s changing needs.

Bentonville plans to use what they learn to redesign and create more community-engaged schools in the downtown area to offer more public education options for families in Bentonville.