Manila School Board considers millage increase

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MANILA -- The Manila School Board is eyeing a millage increase to help pay the district's share of constructing a new elementary school.

Scott Beardsley, senior vice president of First Security of Little Rock, reviewed with the Manila School Board at its regular meeting Thursday the district' financial standing and presented them with a proposed millage increase of two mills. Beardsley said based on the district's assessed value, one mill will generate about $36,120 and will increase next year to generate $37,729.

"Everything in the district combined is worth $180 million," Beardsley said. "You fall in the middle of the state on assessed value. The district currently has 6.1 debt-service mills and the state required 25 maintenance and operation mills for a total millage of 31.1 mills. The state average is 36.5 mills."

Beardsley went on to say that the Manila District has a tradition of paying cash or borrowing for a short period of time and paying that off quickly. The district only has one loan on its books.

"Manila is in good financial shape," Beardsley said. "You don't have a lot of debt and your student population is either holding steady or growing. In your packets is a proposal for a millage increase to help the district raise the funds it needs to pay its share of building a new elementary school."

The Manila School District submitted to the state partnership program, which pays for a portion of construction cost, a plan for a new elementary. If the plan is approved the district would be responsible for paying its share and would need a millage increase to do that. Beardsley said if voters approved two mills and the district requests to refund its November 2003 bond issue and extend the existing 6.1 debt mills through 2028 it would generate the needed funds.

Some board members felt that financing a bond for 20 years was too long and wouldn't leave room for other improvements the district has planned such as high school renovations in 2015. Most board members preferred financing for 15 years, which Beardsley said would increase the number of mills the district would have to ask voters for but would be paid of in a shorter period of time.

Beardsley agreed to put together an information packet that would have financing options starting at 10 years and the millage associated with those options. He would also would include information such as the likeliness of a millage increase passing based on number of mills. The board will have the information for its June meeting at which time they will discuss whether or not they want to pursue a millage increase at this time. If the board chooses to pursue a millage increase it will go before voters in September.

The last millage increase Manila had was five years ago when the district raised its maintenance and operation mills by one mill to meet state mandated standards.

In other business the board approved the early graduation request of Natalie Noble provided she completes all requirements by the end of the first semester of the 2008-09 school year. The board then with a 5-2 vote and two 6-1 votes approved the transfer of four students from Manila to the Buffalo Island Central School District.

Superintendent Pam Castor then presented the board with a number of model policies concerning certified and classified personnel. Most of the policies reflected changes in state and federal law and included such things as Family Medical Leave Act revisions, legal reference changes, a computer use policy and other clarifications. The board also heard a number of student policy changes that again mostly reflected changes in state and federal law. The board agreed to take all the policies under advisement and will discuss them further in its June meeting.

Castor then told board members that The Image Gallery wrote a letter saying they need to withdraw for their contract with the school because at this time they can not fulfill all the contract requirements. She went on to say that she contacted the other photographers in the school's picture rotation and all say they are not able to do the full contract. Castor recommended, and the board approved, dissolving the district school picture rotation so the district can look for a photographer.

After about an hour-long executive session to discuss personnel, the board came back into open session where it voted to accept the resignation of Georgia Beach, teacher, and then approved rehiring her. The board did the same thing with staff members Reba Dill and Carrie Mays to allow the three to become part of the TEA Drop retirement plan.

The board also approved Gerald Hudspeth resignation from his athletic director position and approved the hire of Kaylee Bewer, high school math; Steve Milligan, junior high science; and agreed to pay Jason Durham a $1,000 stipend for completing the 2007-08 season.

The board will discuss next month a proposed mileage reimbursement policy and approved resuming to use the school house, typically used by superintendents, for school purposes.

Castor then told the board that next year there will be scholarship given in honor of Coach Carol, coach of the 1959 girls basketball team. The team won state in 1959 and their 50th anniversary of winning state will be recognized at the first girls game next season.

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