The Conway School District’s next step in executing its 2012 plan, now secured with funding through residents’ passing of a 1.9 mills increase on property tax, will be to finalize blueprints.
“They’re not completed at this time. We have a basic draw of them, what the building will look like and its general design. There are technicalities that the architect has not completed yet,” Greg Murry, superintendent of Conway Schools, said.
The district’s plan for the year 2012 includes the reconstruction of the Conway High School-West campus, the reconfiguration of the grade structure, the repurposing of Sallie Cone Elementary, the rezoning of elementary school attendance and the raising of a new elementary school in south Conway.
The forefront of the plan has been the district’s intention to construct a high school and renovate the campus with $40 million.
On Sept. 21, Conway voters approved a 1.9 mills increase to service the debt associated with the construction projects, bringing the district’s millage rate to 38.1 mills.
“We’re very gratified that our patrons approved the millage increase. And I think the margin of approval speaks volumes of the community and its support of education in this town. We’re known as an education city and it speaks so much about this community that they’ve supported this,” Murry said. “For any millage increase to be passed by 70 percent is astounding.”
Residents voted 2988 to 1290 in favor of the district’s request, which Murry has said equates to an increase near $57 annually to the average homeowner.
Concerns were voiced about the ballot language, which granted the district “the surplus revenues produced each year by debt service millage” to be used “for other school purposes.”
Murry said the ballot language was not unlike the language of other ballots and will provide the school with funds needed to equip science labs and purchase the technology needed for the new high school building.
Murry said that the school’s construction would call for slight deviations to the original plans, but the public has been shown “the bottom line.”
“As we presented it to the community, that is substantially how it will be. We don’t plan on making significant changes to the exterior or the interior of the building,” Murry said.
According to Murry, the district may begin “turning dirt” at the west campus by March of 2011.
“Based on that time frame, we’ll be able to open the building by August of 2012. We’re asking contractors to be done by July so we can get in and do the final cleaning, move teachers in and set up furniture.”
The building known as the “pods” will come down in the summer of 2012.
“This will be an ongoing process for the next several years,” Murry said.
The plan to raise a new elementary school in south Conway has been expedited, and Murry will ask that the Board approve the immediate construction of the school.
“Our intention is to take the floor plan from Woodrow Cummins Elementary and site adapt that plan for the land we have on Old Military Road. Construction will begin next spring or early summer and we’ll open it in the fall of 2012 as well.”
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)