Jonesboro schools asking for millage increase

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Tuesday night the Jonesboro School Board passed a vote to ask for a 3.1 mill increase.

What do they need the money for?

Just so you know when the last time Jonesboro had a millage increase..Ronald Reagan was President.

The school district needs new school buses and building upgrades to handle all the students.

I sat down with Jonesboro Superintendent Dr. Kim Wilbanks and we went over the millage use plan.

"Currently though we're out of space so many of our projects are going toward increasing that space."

For instance, remodeling the theater at the high school and making 4 classrooms and building a new performing arts building.

Some of the buildings in the district are 30 years and older.

Wilbanks, "When you drive by and look you think that building is in pretty good shape , it's because the district over the years has taken such tremendous job of taking care of the resources."

But a 45 year old building like the Hurricane Gym is a 45 year old building.

Wilbanks, "The structure as it sit's today is what was built in 1965."

The plan is to re-do the front of the building, adding ADA compliant restrooms, and other space, and replace the roof.

Another major project involves Annie Camp Junior High School.

Wilbanks, "We'll add six classrooms at Annie Camp Junior High and also build a cafeteria that's large enough to handle that student body."

Wilbanks said they think they can get more bang for the buck if they don't build anything new right now.

"And we feel it's just a wiser use of the tax payers dollar to remodel and renovate. So we can make some pretty major improvements and really meet our needs for much less money."

A portion of the millage vote will be for replacing school buses. Dr. Wilbanks said they have been taking out loans to buy new ones but some years they have to skip because they cannot secure funds.

"Buses should last about 12 years and we're not able to right now to replace buses on an annual cycle so that we can insure safety of our students and our transportation."

The millage vote will come on the heels of the Jonesboro city sales tax increase vote. Will this be a problem?

Wilbanks, "You know the timings probably not good but I've been sitting in this chair as superintendent for 3 years and the timing's not been good in three years. Eventually you come to the point where you say we're gonna have to step off and make this decision to go to the voters for a millage."

Dr. Wilbanks says it's important for people who may no longer have kids in the Jonesboro School district but once did , to remember their roots. Remember their kids had needs and so do the kids of today.

According to Dr. Wilbanks the district has grown over 11 percent in the last 6 years and is predicted to increase another 11 percent in another decade.

The election will take place on September 21st.

Wilbanks, "We've pursued a lot of different avenues to meet needs but we've just exhausted all those possibilities so it's time we have to come to the voters for their help."

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