An informed choice: BV schools share information on building plans

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Berryville School District is providing voters with a brochure on the upcoming millage election so they can make an informed choice on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The Berryville School Board voted at its June meeting to request a 4.45-mill increase for a 30-year bond issue expiring in 2047, extending the district’s 13.05 debt service mills out to 2047 as well. If approved, the district’s new total millage rate will be 42.5 mills.

A mill is equal to one-tenth of 1 percent and the millage tax is paid on the assessed value of a particular piece of property. In Arkansas, the assessed value of a piece of property is 20 percent of its appraised value. Thus, a 4.45-mill tax on a property with an appraised value of $100,000 would equal $89 per year.

Compared to other schools in the area, the brochure says, a millage rate of 42.5 mills is typical. Pea Ridge has a millage rate of 44.8 mills, the brochure says, and both Prairie Grove and Gentry have a millage rate of 42.9 mills. Lincoln and Farmington have millage rates of 42.7 and 42.6 respectively, it says, and Harrison and Gravette are at the lower end with 39.2 mills and 37.2 mills, respectively.

According to the pamphlet, capital projects

funded in full or in part by the proposed $24 million bond issue would include the construction of a new high school, the construction of an auditorium and cafeteria for the high school, the renovation of the main high school, the construction of a media center and cafeteria for the middle school and the construction of a new sports complex.

The millage election brochure provides a timeline for the district improvements. If the millage increase is approved by voters in September, it says the district plans to start construction of the new sports complex in December 2017. Construction of the new high school and other capital improvements will begin in March 2018, the brochure says.

The estimated completion date for the sports complex is September 2018, it says, and the new high school will open for students in August 2019.

The brochure also addresses frequently asked questions, including “Has the district pursued any other means of financing?”; “Will this have an impact on all of our students?”; and “Has the district considered building the new high school in other locations?”

The district has already been approved for $9.6 million in partnerships from the Arkansas Division of Public Schools Academic Facilities and Transportation’s Partnership Program, the brochure says, and many of the improvements funded by this and the millage increase will be used districtwide.

As far as the location of the new high school, the brochure says the district researched different locations and found it was more cost-effective to remain at the same location and be able to utilize the current campus.

The brochure also provides voters with artists’ renderings of the high school, the performing arts center, the middle school cafeteria and media center and the sports complex to help them visualize what the finished project will look like.

The school board voted at its December 2016 meeting to pursue construction of a new high school. The board decided to look into a proposal involving the construction of a new 98,000-square-foot high school for grades 10 through 12 on the east campus, which contains the current middle and high schools; new 22,000-square-foot cafeterias for both the middle and high schools; and new 22,000-square-foot media centers for both the middle and high schools. The proposal also includes renovating and converting the 1942 high school into an administration building.

Additionally, the proposal involves the demolition of the middle school’s west wing, the media center, the cafeteria, the back of the 1942 high school and the small buildings around the campus.

While high school students would move into the new building, middle school students would remain in their current building, and fifth-graders would be relocated to the east annex on the east campus to free up classrooms at the intermediate school and accommodate the rising enrollment on the west campus, where the elementary and intermediate schools and Bobcat Arena are located.

The new high school will be built on the current football field on the east campus, and a new football field will be built on the west campus.

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