Officials with the Vilonia School District said they are not "taking anything for granted" regarding the passing of the proposed one-cent millage increase — an issue on the Sept. 18 ballot — but they are optimistically moving forward with the installation of a sewer to a proposed school site.
During a special meeting, Thursday night, the Board of Education approved a bid of $106,204.65 to Willis Parks Construction for the installation of a sewer extension on N. Mount. Olive Rd. to 20 acres of land recently purchased, at $12,000 per acre, as a proposed location for a new intermediate school. Nine bids were submitted with Parks being the lowest bidder.
If the millage fails, however, it may be a while before the sewer will be put to use, said Dr. Frank Mitchell, school superintendent, addressing the board.
"Some might say that it is presumptuous of us putting in a sewer and buying land," Mitchell said. "But, I think it is a good move. If it doesn’t pass, we have the land, and we’ve got the sewer there. If we are fortunate enough that it passes, we will be ready. We aren’t taking anything for granted — we are just getting ready."
Should the millage fail, Mitchell said the district will not be able to raise the $14.5 million needed to build the school. The one-mill increase would provide funding for an intermediate school for grades 4-6, a safe room for the junior high/senior high and a safe roof for the primary school. One mill is estimated to bring in $7 million in the district, costing taxpayers an increase of about $20 in taxes on a house with an assessed value of $100,000. The district has been approved for $9 million in state funding for the project.
If the district does not obligate to the state funds by October 2013, they will go back into the pool of funds for all school districts resulting in a loss to the district. The district would not be eligible to apply again for a designated time period and there would be no assurance of being granted the funding again.
The proposed intermediate school would serve students in grades 4-6, resulting in changes on all campuses. The elementary as well as the primary would serve kindergarten through third grade students. The middle school would handle grades 7-8 and the high school would accommodate students in grades 9-12. Most 9th- and 10th grade classes would be taught on the present junior high campus while most 11th and 12th grade students would be taught on the present VHS campus.
In a related matter, the board approved paying Fred Fowlkes $12,814.55 in engineering fees regarding the sewer project. Questioned by the board concerning Willis Parks Construction, Fowlkes said "it’s a good bid and a good contractor. Parks, Fowlkes said, is well-experienced and has been involved in other area projects. Fowlkes also said the project is a main line sewer designed to adequately support the school now and in the future.
In other business, the board:
• Approved two student transfers. The students, Mitchell said, are twins and both are seniors and have attended Vilonia since kindergarten.
• Approved service contracts for therapists including Sherri Lewis, Lindsey Cashion, Vanessa Lawrence, Emily McCarron and Morgan Henry.
• Approved hiring Keith Nix as a paraprofessional at the high school’s alternative school as well as a soccer coach. Also, Austin Yeager was a part -time employee at Eagles Landing and the hiring of a temporary and part time office clerk at the administration building.