Signs, posters and brochures are being placed and distributed by the Vilonia School District detailing information and asking that voters cast their ballot Sept. 18, in favor of a one-mill increase.
At the Board of Education meeting, Monday, Dr. Frank Mitchell, superintendent, said he optimistic the millage increase will be approved but concerned regarding voter turnout for the election.
“My biggest fear in an election like this is apathy,” he offered.
The growth over the past two school years, according to officials, has increased more than 170 students. And, according to campus counts Tuesday, that number is anticipated to increase as much as 75 to 100 students this year.
The one-mill increase would provide funding for an intermediate school for grades 4-6, a safe room for the junior high/senior high and a safe roof for the primary school. One mill is estimated to bring in $7 million in the district, costing taxpayers an increase of about $20 in taxes on a house with an assessed value of $100,000. The state will provide $9 million in funding for the project.
However, if the district does not obligate to the funds by Oct. 2013, they will go back into the pool of funds for all school districts resulting in a loss to the district. The district would not be eligible to apply again for a designated time period and there would be no assurance of being granted the funding again.
The proposed intermediate school would serve students in grades 4-6, resulting in changes on all campuses. The elementary as well as the primary would serve kindergarten through third grade students. The middle school would handle grades 7-8 and the high school would accommodate students in grades 9-12.
Most 9th and 10th classes will be taught on the present junior high campus while most 11th and 12th grade students will be taught on the present VHS campus.
Twenty acres of land, located on S. Mt. Olive Rd., has been purchased at $12,000 per acre and will serve as the location of the intermediate school.
The proposed safe room at the high school, currently under construction, will serve as a shelter for about 1,100 and also as a physical education facility for the high school. Before and after school, the shelter will be available to the community. The district’s share of the safe room will be $1.1 million. The Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a grant of $1 million.
The primary will serve as a shelter for about 700. It will also be utilized by the primary school’s Eagles’ Landing, before and after school program. When school is not in session, the shelter will be available as a community shelter. The district’s share of this safe room will be $175,000 with FEMA providing 75 percent of the cost or $525,000.
Votes may be cast at regular designated locations from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 13. Or, early voting at the Faulkner County Courthouse begins Sept. 11.