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NSD to hold special millage election May 12

By Staff, 02/26/20 9:48 AM

ROSSTON – A special election will be held on May 12 with voters in the Nevada School District being asked to renew the district’s millage rate.

Nevada’s millage rate has remained unchanged as 34.8 mill since the school was created 32 years ago. The district is not asking for an increase, just a continuation of what it currently has. The district’s millage is set to expire Jan. 1, 2023. This will reduce the millage to 25 and also reduce the district’s ability to provide a quality education for students in the district.

This is what the Nevada School Board discussed at its February meeting Tuesday night. Jason Holsclaw, with Stephen’s, Inc., was on hand to talk about the election. He said Stephen’s has looked at interest rates, which have fallen, adding this is a great time to renew the millage so the district can do its public projects. Two of those projects are to replace 30-year-old air conditioning units and upgrade the district’s sewer system.

Holsclaw said the district will need the approval of the Arkansas Department of Education before the election can be held, but this shouldn’t be a problem. The projects, he continued, could be done over the summer while school isn’t in session – should the millage be renewed. Overall, he told the board, the bonds would not exceed $1,545,000 and could be less and the only issue on the ballot in May would be the millage rate.

He also reminded the board the district will be required to publish its proposed budget 60 days before the election. The bond counsel, he continued, will be the Friday, Eldredge and Clark Law Firm in Little Rock, with the best bids being taken to ensure the district gets the lowest interest rates possible.

The new millage, should it be approved, would have a 32-year payout. Holsclaw stressed no one’s taxes in the district will change as the millage rate will be the same it’s always been. He told the board 25 mill goes for maintenance and operation while 9.8 mill is used for debt service – again stressing nothing is changing. The debt service funds can be used to make additions and improvements to the existing facility, and the 9.8 mill will generate about $320,000 annually.

Superintendent Rick McAfee said this will allow the district to continue the programs the district currently has. If it doesn’t pass, he continued, and the millage hits its sunset, the district won’t be able to maintain its current level of operation or provide a quality education for the students, and could result in the reduction of teachers. The state could step in and levy a millage should this occur.

The election, he added, will give the people the opportunity to allow the district to keep giving students the level of education it’s been giving for 32 years. “We’re not raising taxes. We were at 34.8 mill 32 years ago and we’re asking to stay the same. Taxes won’t be going up.”

The board approved moving forward with the election and having Stephen’s, Inc. handle the bond issue.

In other business, Jakari Roberson was named Nevada Elementary School Student of the Month for February, while Clay Walraven was tabbed Nevada High School Student of the Month.

NES Principal Tonda Pennington said the NES gifted and talented quiz bowl team is doing well and students in grades three through six are getting ready for the ACT Aspire testing.

Jason Arrington, NHS principal, said the district’s leadership team is looking at ways to cut costs and be more efficient. It will try to have one lunch period for students in grades 7-12, which will cut down on prep time and duty pay. He told the board the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) team did well in the district contest and several will be going to state. NHS students are also getting ready for testing.

McAfee said the district’s ACT scores have improved while the overall state ACT scores have dropped, bringing the two closer together.

The millage, he reminded the board, is important for the district to maintain the level of teaching and support staff. Should voters approve the millage in May, he continued, the district will not only continue offering the same services, but look to add more, but first, the air conditioning units will have to be replaced and work will have to be done on the district’s sewer plant.

In personnel, the board voted to keep its current administrative staff and accepted the resignation of Alvin Gulley, transportation and maintenance director. It also approved hiring Chase Jones to replace Gulley.

The next board meeting will be March 12.