Berryville School Board schedules second public hearing July 1 on expansion plan
BERRYVILLE -- The Berryville School Board has scheduled another public hearing for 7 p.m., Thursday, July 1, at the lower elementary school cafeteria concerning a proposal for major expansions to the district's educational and sports facilities that would cost at least $7 million.
At the June 21 school board meeting on Monday, Superintendent Mike Cox and some board members noted that there had been a small turnout for the first public meeting, but that time was running out to put the property tax issue on the September 21 school ballot.
Board member Randy Colvin said attendance may have been low at the first meeting because, "People thought this was already a done deal. It's not. They thought we had already approved it, but we need their input."
Cox noted there was a timeline for getting the issue on the ballot, but assured board members there was time to hold one last meeting next week on July 1 to get more public input on the issue.
After that meeting, the board would meet in a special session the following week and decide whether to put the tax issue to the district's voters.
The improvements to help in relieving the overcrowded and continuously growing school district would require approval of a school property tax increase, which would bump the current school tax rate (millage) from 31.55 to 37.50, an increase of 5.95 mils.
The millage rates are based on the assessed value of property, which is 20 percent of the appraised value of property. A taxpayer pays only on the assessed value of property, not on the actual appraised value of the real property.
The total tax increase on a $100,000 home would be $119 per year, as one mil is one-tenth of a penny, or. 001.
Cox said in the previous meeting, if the school board doesn't go to the voters now, Act 90, passed by the legislature last year, will hand over control of buildings and facilities to the state, "and the state will have the choice of what to build and what not to build in Berryville. We know what we need, and I am optimistic that the community will support us, because everything we are trying to tell them is true."
At Monday's meeting, Superintendent Cox noted that over the last 20 to 25 years there has been a lot spent on classrooms, with new upper and lower elementary schools constructed, but that the last sports construction was in the early 1980s, which was a new lobby on the gym.
Cox estimated $2 million would be needed for classroom construction, while $5 million would go toward construction of sports facilities.
The plan would add eight new K-3 classrooms, and eight additional classrooms for the fourth grade level, which would be moved to the K-3 campus behind Berryville Ford on Boyer Street. It would also include a computer-media room and multipurpose physical education room.
The largest part of the expansion project includes building a new gymnasium at the K-3 site, at a cost of about $2.8 million.
The proposed gym would have a total of 1,795 seats, many of them chair-back style, which would be large enough to qualify for AAA and AAAA State Tournaments, which would be a first for Berryville.
The current gym, built in 1972 but still called the "new" gym, doesn't qualify for tournaments. It is also too small for senior graduations.
Other main campus additions would be football stadium renovations, a concession stand and public restrooms, a sports field house and a new band building for the growing and successful band program, which has gone from a handful of musicians to a nationally recognized program.
The addition would include junior varsity individual practice rooms, a JV rehearsal hall, instrument, uniform and equipment storage, a music library, assistant band director office and additional restrooms.
The stadium additions include a new football field house with lockers, showers, meeting areas and offices. An important addition to the stadium would be a new all-weather synthetic track with infield runways and six lanes.
New stadium bleachers would increase capacity from the current 816 people to a total of 2,250 seats, 1,530 being on the home-field side.
The bleachers would be brought up to handicapped law standards, and also include a new lighting system. Those additions would cost about $2 million.