The Arkansas Public School Facilities Division, through its Partnership Program, has pledged $5,179,373 of the total building cost for a new Prescott Elementary School. For 60 years, the Prescott Elementary Building has been holding classes and serving the community and now, the Arkansas Public School Facilities Division says it’s time for a new elementary building.
The Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities uses a scale to rate the expected remaining usable life of a building and, on a scale in which a new building ranks 100, Prescott Elementary School ranks a negative 22. With a vision of a positive learning environment and implemented school-wide safety features, Superintendent Robert Poole and the Prescott School Board believe they have found a solution for the District.
The Board and Administration are requesting a 5.9 millage increase to fund the balance not funded by the state partnership program to cover the construction. This millage will allow the district to construct a new elementary school, cover security upgrades for the entire campus, demolition fees, architecture fees, and pave the driveways south of campus. The project totals $11 million and leaves a $123,000 contingency in place for any additional costs that may arise. According to the ACADEMIC FACILITIES PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM project agreement, the district has eighteen months to begin construction on a new elementary building utilizing the allocated funding or lose the funding available to them.
Over the past several years, the District has used their money wisely. Without increasing taxes, the school district has completed nearly $10 million in projects to improve district facilities. A new junior high building and agri building have been constructed. Seating in the high school auditorium has been replaced and air conditioning has been installed in the gym. These, along with several other projects, have required the District to extend the existing bonds 30 years. Because the Prescott School District is registered as a Professional Learning Community, faculty and staff are able to attend seminars and required classes at no charge due to grants and Professional Development funds are provided by the State. “The District has done all they can do to make their reserves stretch, but now the funds just aren’t there for a new building,” says Prescott Superintendent, Robert Poole.
“The State has ranked the current elementary building at a -22,” Poole said. “If we don’t take advantage of the funds offered to us from the State by passing the mil of 5.9, then we risk losing the entire $5+ million in the future.” Poole says that the millage increase will allow the District to complete the Elementary Building, but also enables them to make safety enhancements across the entire campus. “Buildings will be updated to make them more safe and secure,” said Poole, “We plan to install bullet resistant windows, access-controlled doors, cameras at all entrances and make other upgrades so our buildings will be more secure. The new Elementary will also be located on the other side of the road than it is now. Having all of our buildings on the same side of the campus reduces the risk of students being injured by oncoming traffic and will also allow us to block off all entries to the campus in case of a threat or an emergency.”
When asked what would happen if this issue wasn’t addressed, the mil didn’t pass and they didn’t build a new elementary school, Poole stated, “the State will come in and ask what our plan is. If we don’t have a plan, they will give us a certain amount of time to have the students out of that building. If a plan is still not in place within the time frame they give us, the district will be put on the facility distress list and the State could send those students elsewhere. They would do everything they can to help us find another building suitable, but if they can’t, then those students would have to be shipped to other schools outside of the District, unless you wasted your money on modular buildings to house the students, but you don’t want to do that. That is just wasting money.”
There will be an informative meeting for the community on September 3, at 6:00pm at the Prescott High School Cafeteria. The school will provide a 20 minute presentation, followed by a question and answer session so that the public can make an informed vote on September 10.
Early voting starts on September 3 at the Nevada County Courthouse and the election will take place on September 10, 2019 in the High School Lobby.
Superintendent Poole asks that the public, “Please make plans to attend the community meeting so that we may answer any questions or concerns that you may have, as well as give you the facts about why we are asking for the mil increase.”