BIC Education Committee working toward proposals
A committee made up of 30 citizens from Leachville, Monette and Black Oak are working on a proposal for new facilities to accommodate the Buffalo Island Central students.
The Buffalo Island Central Community Education Committee has met twice and will meet again Nov. 19. Superintendent Gaylon Taylor said committee members have reflected and discussed why they feel the millage increase proposal for a new P-Kindergarten through 12th grade facility failed and working toward a proposal they feel like the people will support.
In September voters rejected BIC's request for a 9-mill increase to fund a new school on one campus located between Leachville and Monette. Presently BIC has elementary P-K through sixth grades on both east campus in Leachville and west campus in Monette. Junior high (7-9) is located on the Leachville campus and high school (10-12) is located on the Monette campus.
Among the committee members were three names submitted by school board members.
The meetings are closed to the public.
"We are not trying to hide anything," Taylor said. "The meetings are working meetings and being closed gives the committee more freedom to speak freely. The millage increase and location of the new school was a highly debated subject and created hard feelings."
Taylor serves as facilitator for the meetings and a school board member is present at each meeting to observe.
Some of the top reasons why the committee thinks the millage failed include:
*schools being moved out of the towns.
*did not like the location.
*against the high taxes.
*objected to the auditorium being named for an individual.
*safety issues such a fire and police protection.
*not enough options.
*$19.9 million would not be enough for the project.
Taylor said the committee is working well together and after a couple more meetings will be ready to make suggestions to the school board.
The committee has discussed construction of a pre-kindergarten through sixth grade campus in Leachville and a seventh through 12th grade campus in Monette.
Taylor said if the public goes with this idea there is room for new construction on the existing campuses.
Anytime a millage fails, the superintendent has to meet with the state to discuss reasons it did not pass. When Taylor met with the state following the September vote, he was told modifications of the original plan were approved since plans included replacing the older buildings.
The state does not invest money in buildings 50 to 60 years old.
"When you drive by the buildings they look good from the outside but the high school building is over 50 years old and the elementary in Leachville is 62 years old. The junior high built in 1979 has always leaked from the ground up," Taylor said.
"There is not a right or wrong answer. I don't know how long the state money will be available. Right now we have the opportunity to replace the old buildings with 60 percent of the cost funded by the state. A simple way of explaining is: a farmer has a tractor 10 years old and the motor goes out. Would he decide to replace the motor paying the full cost or get a new tractor for only 40 percent of the total cost."
Enrollment at BIC is at 801, slightly up from the same time last year.
School districts can only have one election in a calendar year. Taylor said the district will be looking at another vote after the first of the year, maybe in the spring. The administration and board will do their best to make sure the public is informed on the plans, Taylor said.
Once a decision is made on the proposed construction, a cost analysis will be compared to make a final decision on the mills needed for the project.
All of the information will be shared with the patrons as soon as possible.