Mayflower students will get the chance to enroll in new agricultural programs in a new 3,750-square-foot facility next fall, if the school board decides Monday to move forward with the $498,829 project.
“It’s not a big building, but it’s an important program to our school,” superintendent John Gray said. “It’s another career program to prepare kids for careers in the future.”
The proposed building will have classrooms, a workshop, offices, storage space and restrooms, Gray said. The building will sit on about 80 acres, where eventually, school officials said they hoped to expand the new animal husbandry and agricultural mechanics programs to have livestock on the property.
The building will also have some softball facilities, including locker rooms, board member Terry Turner said.
After years of trying to get the project going, Gray said funding is the biggest issue left for the school board to handle.
To pay for the new facility, Mayflower applied for a state partnership grant in March 2010 and was notified May 2011 that the state will pay about $280,000 of the school’s building costs, according to documents the district submitted to the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. The partnership program runs on a two year cycle, said Director Charles Stein.
Even with the state’s help, the school will pay hundreds of thousands for the new facility. Turner and Gray said the school might consider borrowing money to pay for the building or downsizing.
“I think we will move forward; we might scale some of it back, I’m not sure,” Turner said.
Gray and Turner both said adding the new agricultural programs are important to Mayflower students. Stein said the school had to show need to get the grant.
Despite being surrounded by cities, Mayflower is a rural community with farming ties, Gray said. A few years ago, the school surveyed students about interest in a program that focuses on skills used in the agriculture industry and found interest is high, he said. Students want to learn animal sciences and mechanical skills that might fit in with farming and jobs in the natural gas industry, Gray said.
About 30 students already plan to enroll in either animal husbandry and agricultural mechanics, Gray said.
“I think (the program) gives a great opportunity to students and the district to maybe learn things they wouldn’t learn in a normal classroom,” Turner said. “We just feel that there are maybe some people who are in school who are not suited for college necessarily, but if they could learn a trade or craft when they got out of school, they could make a living.”