BIC Board votes to proceed with millage
The Buffalo Island Central School Board in its regular meeting Monday, June 15, voted unanimously to ask voters to approve a millage increase on Jan. 12 but instead of 9 mills they are proposing a 7 mill increase.
BIC superintendent Gaylon Taylor laid out the options for board members and then left it up to them to discuss and decide how to proceed. The options were: to do nothing and leave things as they are; to cut out the proposed auditorium so the millage can drop to 7 mills with a K-6 at Leachvile and 7-12 at Monette; and the last option was to go back to the original proposal of a unified campus on Highway 18.
Taylor explained the state only approved 1,500 square feet for an auditorium but the auditorium the district has proposed in its past designs was 10,000 square feet. To drop the millage from the proposed 9 mills to 7 mills space the district would be paying 100 percent of would have to be cut. With the auditorium and possibly an additional classroom being eliminated the millage can be lowered.
"I would like to say for the thousandth time we can only use the $11 million from the state to replace buildings," Taylor said. "We cannot use it to repair facilities. With the 7 mill option there will be a K-6 at Leachville and 7-12 at Monette but the preK programs will stay separate. We will try to utilize the fine arts building at Monette for preK and the existing elementary at Leachville for preK there. We can't bus preK kids so they would have to be separate. I also want to say that if this board votes not to do anything I will be fine, and the district will continue to have school. If you want to settle for what we got we can do that and move forward. It is up to this board."
Some board members still felt the unified campus was the best option but with voters disagreeing it was determined a two campus plan was the way to go.
"I still believe the first proposal is best but I don't think that will ever pass," board member John Field said. "So I think we should go for the 7 mills and two schools."
"I think we can meet people halfway and go with the 7 mills," Todd Edwards board member said. "Pass or fail this time I feel like we as an administration have done all we can do to give our students the buildings and education the need."
"From the outside looking in I see that the board is listening to the people of these communities," new board member Michael McFarlin said. "The communities wanted to keep the schools in their towns and this board listened to them. This time it was the tax issue. The 7 mills option addresses that."
Board members felt turning down $11 million in state funds was not an option. Board members felt the state would not have allocated those funds to replace the buildings at BIC if they did not need to be replaced. After much discussion John Field made the motion to proceed with a proposed 7 mill increase for the purpose of building a K-6 at Leachville and 7-12 at Monette. That motion was seconded by Nathan Sanders. Before the board voted on this motion Taylor voiced his concerns about cutting the auditorium.
"This is totally against my belief because I truly believe I represent every student at Buffalo Island and I don't just represent athletics," Taylor said. "I feel like we are doing an injustice to some of kids by doing this. We understand times are tough and we have to cut something and that is the only area we can cut out, but as the superintendent of this district I feel we are doing an injustice to our fine arts students. If you vote to go this route I challenge you to make our cafeterias in these new buildings appealing to our fine arts people until we can get to a point where we can build an auditorium. It is not fair for them to have to perform on what they are performing on now. I challenge you to make an oversized stage and comfortable seats for parents. I want us to make that commitment."
The auditorium is being cut because it was the area where the district was spending 100 percent of its funds. The original design added 8,500 square feet to the state approved 1,500 square feet to build a state of the art fine arts center. To lower mills in order to meet halfway those community members that felt 9 mills were too high the auditorium had to be cut from the proposal.
The board voted unanimously to proceed with the 7 mill option.
In other business the board unanimously accepted the annual migrant grant, approved a $150 per student stipend for Medicaid billing, approved four school choice applicants who want to move to BIC, approved renewal of the district's risk management insurance, and denied a school choice application for a BIC student wanting to move to Riverside.
The board also approved Central State Bus Sales bid of $83,650 to purchase a Blue Bird bus and approved a salary stipend for a computer technician, and $2,000 stipend for the soccer coach and allowing Taylor to attend Leaders to Leaders Training Academy for superintendents.
Board members voted unanimously to accept the resignations of Kim Tomblin, Bobby Shirley, Syrena Duffel, Reba Wimberly, Robbyn Johnson, Tylor Picket, Micah Gipson and Marty Williford as assistant basketball coach and seventh grade basketball. They approved unanimously the hire of April McClelland, Jarrod Fires, Kenny Stallings, Michelle Moore, Leigh Jackson as part time music 7-12, Kendra Hawkins, Becky Brown, Holly Corker, Emily Sullivan, Matt Hargett, Cody Edgar as assistant basketball and seventh grade basketball, and Brandon Ballard for elementary basketball.