Vilonia School District officials are currently in the question and answer phase regarding their decisions concerning a millage increase. Feedback from the community may be a determining factor.
Monday night, the Board of Education pondered on asking for a millage increase to purchase land, pay for a sewer extension and build an Intermediate School, build a safe room at the high school, build an auditorium, remodel the band and agricultural buildings and build a safe room at the Primary.
Among estimated costs discussed were:
— Intermediate School, 91,729 sq. ft., estimated total cost: $13,576,809; state participation-$9,064,318, local participation-$4,512,491.
— Safe Room (high school), 10,500 sq. ft., estimated total cost: $2,100,000; state participation-$1,000,000, local participation, $1,100,000.
— Auditorium, 22,629 sq. ft., estimated cost: $4,000,128, to be paid with all local funds.
— Land purchase for Immediate School, estimated cost: $180,000, to be paid with all local funds.
— Sewer extension, estimated cost: $150,000, to be paid with all local funds.
— Remodel Band and Agri Buildings at the high school, estimated cost: $300,000, to be paid with all local funds.
— Safe Room (primary) 3,500 sq. ft., estimated total cost: $700,000; $525,000-state participation, $175,000-local participation.
Projected local participation costs for all the projects would be $10,417,619. Using numbers based on a 3.5 millage increase, it is anticipated the projected millage would bring in $10,600,000. It was said there is also $400,000 available in a 2012-13 building fund.
It was not a new subject of discussion but one that has been ongoing for many months. Again, the discussion did not end with the board formally committing to a decision regarding any of the issues or projects.
"We definitely need a school," board member Scott Newell said. "If we tie an auditorium in and it doesn’t pass, though, we’ve got a problem."
The discussion ended with all expressing a desire to informally poll the public on the matter. In the meantime, board members asked Dr. Frank
Mitchell, district superintendent, to move forward on the purchase of some acreage on Mt. Olive Rd. They asked the principals to estimate the number of school functions that most likely would be held in an auditorium if the school had one. A couple of board members said they need to be equipped with as much information as possible prior to going out "to the people to get feedback."
Mitchell spoke supportively of such a move.
"We need to go out and talk to people and allow them to see the whole picture," he said.
Speaking in favor of the package deal, however, he said, they really must have the school. Also, he said, he believes an auditorium would benefit the community as well as the school but "it doesn¹t come without a cost." He talked about parents and grandparents being able to sit comfortably while attending student functions. As well, he said, the auditorium could be used by the community in a variety of ways. Most schools, he said, the size of Vilonia have auditoriums.
"What I hear from people in other districts they get a lot of use by the community as well as the school," he said.
He said he has been visiting with school officials at Greenbrier, Beebe and White County Central.
Attempting to put the issue in perspective, it was said that a 3.5 millage increase would increase the cost assessed to about $70 on a house with an appraisal value of $100,000
In other action, the board:
— Approved the use of school property by the Ministerial Alliance to hold a senior breakfast and baccalaureate services on May 6.
— Approved a technology plan with a "safe budget." Bill Beavers, school technology director, presented a three-year technology plan, and three different versions of budgets, as well as a 67 page report regarding the future of the district. During which, he talked about instruction in the classroom and equipment including telephones, computers, cameras, networking expenses and software.
— Approved a reimbursement resolution allowing for funds to be recovered on the safe room in the event school officials opt for a millage increase and it is approved.
— Approved the purchase of a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria with 21,000 miles for $15, 325 and a 2005 high top van, that is wheelchair accessible, for $8,000.
— Approved the renewal of the school board liability policy at a cost of $7,522.
— Teacher Debbie Mauldin shared information regarding Eagle Nest, the school’s athletic store. She said the store will soon be used in implementing a new course of study that will be referred to as Entrepreneurship, small business operations, and that has been approved by the Arkansas Career Education. Students will be able to do an internship through the store as well as in the community.
Currently, Mauldin said, the store has begun taking consignments from the community.
"What we are doing here is trying to have a good learning experience for students," Mitchell said. "If we make a little money, it will be a fine thing."