Mill­age in­crease for school fa­cil­i­ties passes in Gen­try

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By Randy Moll rmoll@nwadg.com

GEN­TRY — Vot­ers in the Gen­try School Dis­trict agreed to a 3.1-mill in­crease in their taxes Tues­day, with 250 vot­ing for it (68 per­cent) and 118 vot­ing against it (32 per­cent).

The money will sup­port a $9.5 mil­lion bond for an ad­di­tion at the in­ter­me­di­ate school, a ca­reer and tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion build­ing, elec­tri­cal up­grades at Gen­try High School and at the vo­ca­tional agri­cul­ture build­ing, and light­ing and sound up­grades in the au­di­to­rium, ac­cord­ing to the dis­trict. Ad­di­tional fund­ing will come from money which will be­come avail­able when an ex­ist­ing bond is re­tired in 2017.

The to­tal school mill­age on prop­erty in the dis­trict will in­crease from 42.9 mills to 46 mills, with a mill rep­re­sent­ing one-tenth of a penny. The higher mill­age is ex­pected to cost an ad­di­tional $62 per year on real and per­sonal prop­erty val­ued at $100,000.

Due to the age of the ex­ist­ing class­room build­ings at the in­ter­me­di­ate school campus on S. Sec­ond Street in Gen­try and the on­go­ing prob­lems the school had with a leaky roof, a new class­room fa­cil­ity there is re- garded as a high pri­or­ity for the school dis­trict in or­der to pro­vide a safe and mod­ern learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents in the third through fifth grades. In the in­ter­me­di­ate school plan, the six wing build­ings and the main class­room area will be de­mol­ished — leav­ing the multipurpose area with mu­sic and art rooms, a gym and a cafe­te­ria — and the new class­room fa­cil­ity will be built on the site of the ex­ist­ing main class­room area on South Sec­ond Street. The build­ing will in­clude 18 class­rooms and a safe room-com­mons area.

Pro­posed plans will make the new build­ing two-sto­ries high to ac­com­mo­date the need for ad­e­quate class­room space on the lim­it­edspace campus. The look is also mod­eled to re­flect the old two-story brick high school build­ing once lo­cated on that campus. Also in­cluded in in­ter­me­di­ate school build­ing projects is a new roof on the por­tion of the in­ter­me­di­ate school not in­cluded in de­mo­li­tion plans (the multipurpose build­ing on the north side of the bus tun­nel).

The es­ti­mated cost of the build­ing project at the Gen­try In­ter­me­di­ate School campus is $7.5 mil­lion, based on a two story build­ing with each level hav­ing roughly 24,361 square feet.

Other projects in­clude a diesel-me­chan­ics’ lab with two truck bays and ca­reer class­rooms on the high school campus (pro­posed along SWEPCO Rd., on the north edge of the base­ball field), elec­tri­cal up­grades and im­prove­ments in the high school and the new agri­cul­ture build­ing.

Es­ti­mated cost to build the diesel lab is about $2 mil­lion, with the other three projects es­ti­mated to bring the to­tal to ap­prox­i­mately $12 mil­lion.

Ap­proval for the projects (ex­cept for the diesel me­chan­ics’ lab) was given the Gen­try School Dis­trict by the Arkansas Di­vi­sion of Pub­lic School Aca­demic Fa­cil­i­ties and Trans­porta­tion. Though there is no guar­an­tee the dis­trict will ac­tu­ally re­ceive as­sis­tance from the state, the ap­proval means the state could con­trib­ute ap­prox­i­mately $1.2 mil­lion to­ward the school build­ing projects.

A new class­room fa­cil­ity could be com­pleted on the in­ter­me­di­ate school campus by the end of 2018 or early in 2019. A diesel me­chan­ics’ lab could be built and ready to use by the be­gin­ning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Cour­tesy art

Draw­ing of pro­posed class­room fa­cil­ity at the in­ter­me­di­ate school by Hight Jack­son As­so­ci­ates.

Cour­tesy art

Draw­ing of pro­posed ca­reer class­room fa­cil­ity and diesel me­chanic lab by Hight Jack­son As­so­ci­ates.

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