Manila School District holds open house hears new building Q&A
A public meeting was held before the Manila School District's open house on Thursday, Aug. 13, at the high school auditorium.
Superintendent Pam Castor said the attendance was good and she thanked everyone for coming.
She commended the middle school for being in the top 20 percent and the elementary school for being in the top 10 percent for the second consecutive year in academic performance. She also informed the patrons that all of Manila schools are accredited. The campus is completely asbestos free.
Ms. Castor gave a Power Point presentation of all of the frequently asked questions about the new high school project and and the proposed 4.7 new debt service mills through 2045.
Q. Where will the school be built?
A. The site has been marked by flags. Its location is at the site of the current bus shed.
Q. Will this location change after the Sept. 15 millage election?
A. The idea of building on campus was a decision made by a majority of board members because they felt it was what the community wanted. This will not change if the community affirms this decision in the school election.
Q. What happens to the $14 million awarded to Manila School District if the millage does not pass?
A. The $14 million will not be given to Manila School District if the district does not provide the matching funds that will be raised with the millage.
Q. What action may the state take if a building is not built?
A. The Arkansas Department of Facilities and Transportation has rules related to facilities and failed millage issues. These rules outline steps the department may take in the event that building needs are not met. Some of the sanctions include eliminating extracurricular activities at the school, closing the school, and or state takeover of the school.
Q. Why does the old building need to be replaced?
A. The Tipton Hall building was built in 1950. Harry Trumann was President when it was constructed. Despite, keeping the building clean and repaired, it is 65 years old, and it has major problems. The heating is an old boiler system with radiators in the hallways and rooms. The only way to regulate the temperature in individual rooms is to raise and lower the windows. It is cooled by individual air-conditioning units that are very loud, making it hard for students to hear. The building does not meet current school construction standards. School construction rules mandate that any major remodeling project bring a building up to the current code for school construction. To make the old building meet the current standard for school construction would not be cost effective. Foundation problems, electrical problems, and plumbing problems compound these costs. In addition, the regular classroom size does not meet the current required size. The Department of Facilities and Transportation has visited the building. They are in agreement that it needs to be replaced. In addition, the State Fire Marshall has visited. He has expressed his thoughts that due to age and wood framing, the old gym must be replaced.
Q. What will we do for practice space?
A. The new building will contain a physical education gym that will replace the old gym practice space. The new space will be air conditioned so young players will no longer have to be in a gym that is not air conditioned.
Q. How will the bus shed be replaced? Will replacing the bus shed be expensive?
A. We are currently looking at repurposing the agri shop as a bus shed. The new high school building has a new agri shop. This should help minimize any expense.
Q. Will the new high school have a tornado safe space?
A. The plans for the high school include tornado safe hallways.
Q. Will there be other safety features in the new high school building?
A. Yes, the building will have safety features that will include safeguards against intruders, such as a door buzz-in system.
Q. Why will we need another cafeteria in the new high school building?
A. Another area for high school students to eat inside their building will keep these students from having to brave the rain and cold winter weather in order to eat lunch. It will also free up space in the existing cafeteria so that elementary students will not have to eat lunch at 10:30 a.m.
Q. Will the new high school building project hurt the current sewer system?
A. The new high school project will include a new pumping station for the south side of the campus. The existing pumping station on the north side of the campus will also be updated. These upgrades will be designed to lessen the strain on the sewer lines and are designed to help the system rather than hurt it.
Q. Is there a plan to address school traffic problems?
A. The site plan for the new high school project will realign roads in a way that will help school traffic by shifting traffic flow around the school campus.
Q. Will drainage be a problem?
A. The drainage will be improved. New ditches will be installed that will help drain the entire campus. It will provide a connection to the county ditch and keep the project from pushing water out onto other properties.
Q. Will there be room for growth in the new high school building?
A. Yes, the building project is designed to meet the growth needs of the future. The new high school building will allow for growth. The space left in the existing high school will allow for at least 14 additional rooms that may be used for middle school and elementary growth.
Q. What is the amount of real estate tax due on the proposed 41.4 total mills, and what is the difference per year and per month from the current 36.7 total mills? How much will the proposed millage cost?
(A chart was included starting with appraised value of real estate; current mills; proposed mills per year; difference per year and difference per month)
Example of the lowest and highest on the chart:
Appraised Value of Real Estate, $25,000 at 20 percent assessed valuation is $5,000; current 36.7 mills per year is $183.50; proposed 41.4 mills per year is $207.00; difference per year is $23.50; difference per month is $1.96.
Property appraised at $150,000 at 20 percent is $30,000; current 36.7 mills $1,101.60; proposed 41.4 mills $1,242.00; difference per year $141.00; difference per month $11.75.
Note: If the total taxes due on a primary residence are $350 or less, there will be no real estate tax due. Each primary residence tax bill will receive a credit of up to $350 if the credit is applied for.
Q. How does the District's millage rate compare to other school districts in the surrounding area?
A. Another chart was presented to compare
Q. Is there a request for extension of existing debt millage?
A. Yes, the 11.7 existing debt mills are being requested to be extended through 2045, which is 17 years beyond the current commitment.
Q. How does the District compare to the state average millage rate?
A. The State average as of the 2014 election is 37.55 mills.
Q. What is the purpose of the Refunding & Construction bond issue?
A. The bond proceeds will be used to refund the District's bonds dated 11/1/2008 and will produce approximately $6,525,000 in construction funds for erecting and equipping a new high school, and constructing, refurbishing, remodeling and equipping school facilities.
Q. Will building on campus limit the high school's ability to partner with outside entities, such as the University of Arkansas Extension Office or Experiment Station?
A. The Manila School District is in favor of any partnerships that will benefit the students of Manila School District. We have no concrete information at this time that building on campus will either help or hurt any future partnerships with universities or other agencies. We will continue to pursue excellence in education and make the best of any partnership opportunities that are offered to use that align with the educational goals of the district and the community.
Q. When will the school be finished?
A. If the millage is approved, the school will be built starting in the spring. It will take approximately 18 months to finish depending on the weather.
Q. When will the old Tipton Hall building be torn down?
A. The old Tipton Hall building and old gym will be torn down after the new high school building is completed. This will allow students to continue to be housed in the old building during construction of the new building.
Q. Will the project hurt the proposed runway expansion of the Manila airport runway?
A. The FAA has indicated that any construction of property south of Haywood Street would not interfere with the funding for the planned runway extension project.
Q. When is election day?
A. The school election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.
Visitors at the meeting included John Mixon, architect with Cromwell; Marshall Hughes with Beardsley Public Finance; Adam Sieder and Brock Cline with Nabholz Construction. Co. They were available to answer any questions about the proposed project.
Ms. Castor announced Terry Granderson, director of the Arkansas Department of Facilities and Transportation, was not able to attend the meeting but will be in Manila for a public meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27 in the auditorium. He will be able to answer any questions regarding the partnership funding.