Friday, March 20, 2015

TOP STORY >> Millage vote to affect schools

Leader senior staff write

The Pulaski County Special School District will build three new high schools, two new elementary schools add gymnasiums and make significant upgrades or additions all around if voters approve a 5.6-mill property-tax increase at a special election May 12.

Voters within the PCSSD boundaries — excluding those in the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District — are eligible to vote at their usual polling places. If the increase passes, it will not affect property owners in the emerging JNP district.

Those not currently registered to vote have until April 10 to register, according to information on the PCSSD website.

Early voting begins May 5 at the Jack Evans Senior Center in Sherwood, the Jess Odom Community Center in Maumelle, the Roosevelt Thompson Library off Chenal Parkway and the County Regional Building at Markham and Broadway in Little Rock, according to Brian Poe, Pulaski County director of elections.

PCSSD will pay for the special election, which could cost as much as $30,000, according to Bill Goff, its chief financial officer.

The newest wrinkle in facilities plans calls for a new elementary school off Hwy. 440 near the Fourche Dam Pike exit to replace Scott, Harris and College Station elementary schools.

Scott Elementary is being closed at the end of this school year, over the objection of many Scott residents. The other two are old facilities with many needs.

The millage increase, which would bring the district’s annual construction millage to 46.3 mills, would be expected to raise about $12 million a year for 30 years — enough to fund the $213 million building program.


A large addition to Sylvan Hills High School will make it “basically a new school,” PCSSD Director of Operations Derek Scott said. The school doesn’t have a space large enough for a student assembly.

The addition will include new classroom space and a new gymnasium. The space currently behind the school will become the approach to, essentially, a whole new high school. The existing auditorium could be repurposed into a seminar room, Scott said.

Two years ago, the school had about 770 students. After the Jacksonville-North Pulaski district starts classes, it will grow to about 1,420 students.

Sylvan Hills Middle school, although recently built, still needs restrooms, practice and play fields.

Sherwood Elementary will get a gym, a cafeteria and new parking.

Sylvan Hills Elementary is slated for additional classrooms, air conditioning in the gym and paved parking.

Cato Elementary, with open-space classrooms, could be moved about year three into the building that currently houses Northwood Middle School, Scott said.


The following is what’s planned for Mills High School and its feeder schools.

A new Mills High School will be built for about $52 million, according to Scott, with the current high school remodeled and converted to a middle school. Fuller, the existing middle school, would be demolished.

The district would build the proposed new elementary school to replace Harris, Scott and College Station elementary schools — roughly equidistant from each. That school is not currently on the state Facilities Masterplan, but the state only matches about one-half of one percent of approved construction for PCSSD, Scott said. The district could afford the additional new school, assuming the millage increase is approved.

Landmark and Daisy Bates elementary schools would be gussied up and would each get a gymnasium/multipurpose room.

“We’re trying to ensure we can get rid of open-space classes, like those at Landmark, where possible,” Scott said.


The district will build a new Robinson High School, converting the current high school to the middle school and demolishing the current middle school.

Robinson Elementary School, an open-space facility, will be demolished and replaced.

Chenal Elementary needs increased parking, and both Baker and Lawson elementary schools need gymnasiums and facility improvements.


Maumelle High School, the most recently built in the district, still needs a track, visitors’ bleachers, restrooms, lights on the softball and baseball fields and the conversion of practice fields into game fields, according to Scott.

Maumelle Middle School, also recently constructed, needs restrooms at the athletic fields and air conditioning in the gym.

Crystal Hill and Oak Grove elementary schools each need a gym and general improvements.