Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TOP STORY > >Cabot district to see school construction

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The 3.9 millage increase approved by Cabot voters on Tuesday will allow the school district to move forward with $50.5 million in construction projects. The district will sell $22.8 million in bonds — Cabot’s share of construction costs after matching state aid — for the 15 proposed projects.

Out of almost 2,300 votes cast Tuesday, residents approved the millage increase 1,190-1,086, with just 104 more votes to spare.

“We will meet with our construction crews immediately and develop a time line for implementation of all projects,” Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said. “We need to establish an immediate timeline with our construction crews and architect and begin the process of finalizing drawings, advertising for bids and starting construction,” he said.

Thurman said the timeline will be based on factors such as availability of subcontractors, what work can be done with school in session, and how many projects can be active in the district at one time.

“We want to move quickly as well as strategically,” he said.

The next step for the Cabot district now that it has 39.9 mills is to start work finalizing the location for the next elementary school, to be located somewhere on the west side of the district, and to begin improvements to the district’s infrastructure.
One of the first of the listed 15 projects to be completed will be the rebuilding of Cabot Junior High North, lost to an electrical fire in August 2006. Junior High North will be ready in August 2009, Thurman said.

He said many patrons have repeatedly asked him about the efficiency of the Cabot district.

“Our teachers are used efficiently and do a great job,” he said. “We will continue to staff strategically and efficiently while doing our best to provide much needed support for classroom teachers.”

Even with the millage increase, Cabot remains the lowest school millage rate in Lonoke County and places Cabot at the average millage rate of the 10 largest school districts in the state. Cabot is currently the seventh largest district in Arkansas.

Other planned construction projects include a $13 million cafeteria/HPER (gym) at Cabot High School; a proposed elementary school on the west side of the district at an estimated cost of $11.4 million; $7.3 million in additionalsecondary classrooms; a total of $8.1 million in renovations on the high school’s auditorium, science building and agriculture building; a $2.3 million science addition at Junior High South; $600,000 to add heat and air conditioning units to school cafeterias – the only cafeterias currently with heat and air are Stagecoach and Magness Creek Elementary schools.

The list also includes $1.8 million to install heat and air conditioning units in activity buildings around the district; $200,000 for a new roof at Eastside Elementary School; $700,000 to add on to Westside Elementary School; $2 million for a permanent charter school facility; $200,000 for a student area/amphitheater at CHS; and $400,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements/accessibility.

The cost to homeowners for the 3.9 mills is based on the home’s assessed property value. Taxes are based on 20 percent of the assessed property value with one mill being equal to 1/10 of one cent — .001 in decimal form.

For example, a home assigned a value of $100,000 has an assessed value of $20,000 (20 percent). One mill on this home would cost $20 ($20,000 multiplied by .001).

On a $100,000 home, 3.9 mills would cost an additional $78 a year; broken down, that’s $6.50 a month – less than a quarter a day. Owners of a $50,000 home would pay $39 more a year or $3.25 a month; a $150,000 home – an additional $117 a year or $9.75 a month; a $200,000 home — $156 more a year or $13 a month.