The Vilonia Board of Education learned Monday night they do have a couple of options rather than purchasing additional land for the building of a new high school.
Architect Steve Elliott presented two different proposals to the board including the building of a one-story facility and a two-story facility on land already owned by the district.
He was ready, he said, to answer the question as to whether a high school large enough, using 10-year projections, would fit on property being used for the baseball field.
"There’s exciting possibilities," he offered.
Using two drawings, he showed the board, how he perceives a one-story or a two-story building would fit. While there was no dollar amount mentioned, there were some specifics discussed including less footings, less roof cost, cost of elevators and fire stairs as well as heating and cooling with a two-story building.
Dr. Frank Mitchell, school superintendent, said he likes having options but he believes there could be some obstacles.
"Having everything together is a plus," he said, adding that he believes it could also result in congestion.
Prior to the end of the discussion, he urged board members to make their wishes known concerning his continued efforts to purchase land.
Polling the board, it appeared most members were in agreement to place the purchase of land on hold to allow a cost study to be done with building additional facilities at the current location.
"I think we need to continue down this path until we see that it is not going to work," said board member Scott Newell.
On that same note, board president Danny Lawrence said he has "no qualms" about moving the ball field.
However, he said, he would like for the district to also have some land to expand on in case it becomes necessary in the future.
"We may kick ourselves in five years," he said. It was also said the high school has a population of about 650 students "way over capacity" at the high school building, and some classes are being held in alternate facilities.
Building on the current high school campus calls for moving the existing baseball field near the current soccer fields. That area then, it was said, would then be turned into a park-like setting for boys baseball, girls softball and soccer. Elliott estimated that could cost $150,000 to $200,000 to relocate the ball field if they reuse some of the existing items such as fencing.
The discussion ended with Elliott suggesting school officials talk to the administration at other schools regarding two-story facilities. He is also to report back to the board regarding costs.
In other business:
• Accepted the reorganization of the board. Lawrence will continue as board president and Jerry Roberts will continue as vice-president.
Martin McKissack will serve as secretary and disbursement officer.
Randy Sanders is the alternate disbursement officer.
Mark Samuelson, who resigned earlier in the year from the board, was reseated Monday night following the September election.
He resigned due to the state’s school nepotism bill which restricts the hiring of a school board member’s family by local school districts. However, a family member employed by the district does not affect a citizen’s ability to run for, and, if elected, serve on the school board.
• Passed a resolution to apply for a Safe Routes to School Grant.
• Gave Mitchell the nod to pay for having professional inspections done on some poles holding lights including four on the softball field and six on the baseball field. It was also said there appears to be no apparent problems.
• Approved athletic expenditures for about $36,000 to cover the costs of some uniforms including senior high football uniforms (to be used next year) and junior high football uniforms as well as other equipment.
• Passed a couple of resolutions reauthorizing the 2003 and 2004 bond issues following a presentation by Jack Truemper of Stephens Inc.
The move will allow the district to refinance, pending state Board of Education approval, should the local board deem it necessary in the near future. On the positive side, it was said the move could result in considerable savings for the district that would help "the current and near future finances" of the district. On the negative side, it was said the move could have a potential effect on future bond issues for construction.
If interest rates are favorable, issues that have been paid on a number of years can be refunded as a part of the overall issue and reduce the amount of millage required for a building project. The amount of effect on the latter consideration would depend upon the length of time before the new facilities require that a millage increase is proposed.