Deadline nears for Green Forest Schools to submit plan

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

GREEN FOREST -- The School Board has just a few days left to submit a plan to the state explaining how the district will address deficiencies.

Doug Eaton, director of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation, had set a deadline of Dec. 19 for a response from Green Forest.

In preparation for that report, the board held a special meeting last Monday, and followed up with a meeting of the Facilities Committee Thursday. The regular board meeting, set for the evening of Dec. 17, gave the board a final opportunity to put together a proposal.

The board members have increasingly leaned toward a plan to build enough new classrooms to satisfy the needs of the present and the immediate future. The building project could be financed by reissuing existing bonds, so voters would not be asked for an additional millage.

The district could not reissue its bonds until a year from now, since they were issued only four years ago. Any construction based on that revenue could not begin until 2009, so the state would have to endorse that timetable if it accepts the plan.

When voters rejected a millage increase Sept. 18, the school district fell under the provisions of a state law which requires the district to submit a plan to the state, explaining how present and future needs will be addressed. The state had originally set a deadline of Dec. 13 for the district to submit a plan, but former Superintendent Larry Bennett retired suddenly, and the state extended the deadline to Dec. 19.

The board has stayed busy since then, with special meetings and a public meeting Dec. 6. Interim Superintendent Bob Evans was hired to help guide the district through its immediate circumstances. He has worked in a similar capacity at other school districts with pressing financial problems.

Evans will meet with Eaton Wednesday, along with board members and Maintenance Supervisor Larry Newberry.

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