Leader Blues

Thursday, January 17, 2008

TOP STORY >> Board votes 10-year plan for facilities

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board on Tuesday night approved a 10-year facility plan that if accepted by the state will cost the school district and state together $50.5 million.

Of that amount, the state would pay $27.7 million and Cabot School District would pay $22.8 million, money the district doesn’t have now but will have if voters say “yes” March 11 to a 3.9 mill increase to their property taxes.

Included in the 10-year plan are a health, physical education and recreation center and cafeteria at the high school; a new elementary school; four classrooms and a new parking lot at Westside Elementary; HVAC units in PE facilities on eight campuses and remodeling of the cafeteria and amphitheater at the high school.

Also on the list are new restrooms, a concession stand and bleachers at the stadium to make them ADA compliant; HVAC units for 10 kitchens, none of which now have air-conditioning; auditorium renovation at the high school; new science labs at Junior High South; renovation of the 15-year-old science building at the high school; and construction of a charter school facility.

If ninth graders are moved to the high school, more space will be needed, so 40 more classrooms would have to be built.
The district also has proposed construction of a pre-kindergarten building. The state does not currently help finance any pre-K education buildings.

Among other projects on the facilities plan the state will not help finance are the purchase of land for a new elementary school, a new roof on Eastside Elementary and paving Stagecoach Road. If voters agree to tax themselves more to pay for school improvements, the additional cost per year would be $78 for a house valued at $100,000; $117 for a house valued at $150,000; and $156 for a house valued at $200,000.

The district also has asked the state for half of the $5 million budget gap needed to rebuild Cabot Junior High North. The total cost of the new building will be $12.5 million, of which insurance has reimbursed $10 million.

The $5 million budget gap is a combined $2.5 million shortfall in construction cost and a $2.5 million gap in the district’s operating fund.

Dr. Tony Thurman, school superintendent, is asking the state to reimburse the district for the operating costs. The additional revenue from the millage would make up the shortfall in the insurance reimbursement, he said.