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Poole touts need for millage hike to city council

By Staff, 08/20/19 10:37 AM

PRESCOTT – Robert Poole, superintendent of the Prescott School District, spoke to the Prescott City Council at its August meeting Monday night about the upcoming millage election on Sept. 10.

Poole pointed out there are signs around town with the logo “Safer Schools/Greater Community for our Kids” and said this is more than a slogan as the emphasis for the millage is to have safe schools for the children. All schools would have access controlled doors, security cameras and, at the proposed new elementary school, bullet-resistant windows. “This is the main emphasis with the millage,” he said.

The district is asking for a 5.9 mill increase in a special election on Sept. 10. The last millage increase the district had, he said, was 16 years ago. The millage, he added, will also be used to help construct a new elementary school, but the district will be getting help from the state in the form of $5.17 million for the project. Poole pointed out the differences between PES and Prescott Junior High School, the newest building in the district, saying PJHS is safer and more up-to-date, but the district needs the community’s help.

He said it’s a small investment to protect the children. According to chart provided by the district, homes appraised for $100,000 would see an increase in their property tax of $9.83 a month or $118 a year. Homes appraised for $250,000 would be paying an extra $24.58 monthly or $295 more annually on their property taxes. The pamphlet states the 5.9 mill increase will also apply to assessed personal property.

Poole told the council the money the state has been setting aside for school facilities is going away and if the district doesn’t take advantage of it now, these funds will be gone and Prescott will still have an elementary school needing to be replaced. He pointed out it would cost almost as much to renovate the existing school as to build a new one.

He said this would also be good for the local economy as construction crews would be working and shopping locally for 18-24 months while the work is being done.

Councilman Howard Austin said if a new school isn’t built now, it’ll be like the problem with the old jail and will get to the point where the district is forced to build.

Poole said if the measure fails, there will be no state money and the state could come in and require a new facility to be built, which would require the passage of 14-15 mill, or the state could take the district over. He pointed out the district built a new junior high and agriculture building without a millage increase and this is the last thing the district needs.

He said the state ranks schools from 0-100 and PES was rated at a negative 22 because of the condition it’s in.

Staying on the school topic, the council approved an interlocal agreement with the district for two school resource officers (SRO). Poole said the district is down to one SRO and would like to have an officer in each school. He added the district has no problem paying its share of the cost as this has made a huge difference and everyone would feel safer with an office in each building.

Prescott Police Chief Joey Beavers told the panel the Prescott Police Department is down three officers. One, he said, left to become the SRO in Nashville where he’s from while the others went to area agencies for more money. He added, SRO’s need to be certified officers, not fresh out of the academy. Beavers said he’s advertising for officers at this time.

The SROs, he continued, are police officers, but their primary duty during the school year is with the school. Otherwise, they’re members of the PPD.

The council was informed of Park Church wanting to purchase roughly 1/2 acre near the facility for additional parking. Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said the church is growing and needs the room.

Before the council could say anything, Perry Nelson, water and sewer superintendent, said sewer lines cross the property serving the old National Guard Armory and the city would have to have an easement for access to the sewer line. He added easements are normally 10-feet wide and nothing can be built on top of it.

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said the property would have to be appraised and sold for the appraised value. Because it’s city property, it can’t be given away.