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Poole touts need for millage hike to Rotary Club

By Staff, 08/27/19 1:36 PM

PRESCOTT – Robert Poole, superintendent of the Prescott School District, talked to the Prescott Rotary Club, Tuesday, about the need for a millage increase.

The district is asking for a 5.9 mill increase which would put the millage rate at 41 mill. This would be paid through personal, real and property taxes. Early voting, he said, is Sept. 3 at the Nevada County Courthouse, while the election is Sept. 10 with voting in the lobby at Prescott High School.

He told club members the state is picking up roughly 68 percent of the cost of a new elementary school, or approximatley $5.2 million through the Arkansas Public School Facilities Division. This entity, he said, rates schools from 0-100 and put Prescott Elementary at negative 22 because of the shape it’s in. It also did a feasibility study to see if it would be worth the effort to renovate PES and not build a new structure. The end result is it would cost 97 percent of what a new building would run to renovate the existing PES.

This millage, he said, won’t just be to cover the district’s portion of the construction costs, but will also be used to improve and upgrade security across all campuses, with more secure doors, cameras everywhere they can legally be placed, including on all buses, and bullet resistant windows in the new PES. He said families living out of town have said they’d bring their children to the PSD if the millage passes and these security measures are taken. The doors, he added, won’t be where people can just walk in.

A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 to discuss the issue further. “My job is to get you the right information,” he said. “We need this vote for Prescott and the children.”

When asked how much more this would cost property owners, Poole handed out a pamphlet with a graphic showing the costs. A home appraised at $50,000, he said, would cost an extra $4.40 more a month in property taxes, while a home appraised at $100,000 would be an additional $9.83 a month.

The millage will be used to purchase a bond with a 30-year payout. However, the Prescott School Board can refinance these bonds, which will also extend how long the millage will be on the books.

The new building, he continued, will be constructed by the bus barn, putting all buildings on the same side of the street. The current PES will be razed and turned into a parking lot. He stressed none of the funds from the millage would be used to put Astroturf on Eddie Jackson Field, saying the PSD has the best natural grass field in the state.

He added there has been talk about placing metal detectors at the doors, but these are expensive at $35,000 each. Poole was asked about arming teachers. he said this would be up to the board and could gradually be done, but it would begin with administrators being armed first.

Rotary President James Stayton reminded the club it would be participating in the Fall Festival on Oct. 12. He said Ivory Curry has approached him saying the club could host a community feed for about $300. The club agreed to have a chicken spaghetti fundraiser on Nov. 1 at the cafeteria at Prescott Junior High School. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. with tickets being $8.