Paragould School District patrons heading back to polls - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Paragould School District patrons heading back to polls

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) The districts first attempt to pass the mil increase back in September failed by less than 30 votes. There are 6 facility improvement projects planned if the increase passes. That includes a major addition to Oak Grove Middle School.  A bigger, more energy efficient place for kids to learn. It's something school leaders say students need and deserve.

"It has several issues that will be hard to fix and costly," said Oak Grove Middle School Assistant Principal, Laurel Taylor.

If a proposed 4.95 mil increase passes, the rock building at Oak Grove Middle School will be torn down and replaced with a more energy efficient, spacious facility.

"Classrooms, p-e facility, science lab, a computer lab," said Taylor.

It's something Taylor says they need.

"Our kids deserve more.   They deserve a better facility to meet their needs and keep us competitive in today's world," said Taylor.

Taylor says the rock building was built in the 1930's and they have simply outgrown it.

"The just not being able to move....not being able to move your chair to form groups--to break into small groups or do a learning circle.....sometimes those aren't options," said Taylor.

For example, Taylor says the state requires a minimum of 850 square feet for a middle school classroom.  This 6th grade classroom, with 28 students, is 575 square feet.

She says the problems don't end there.

"Anybody with some mobility issues would have difficulty traveling through these classrooms," said Taylor.

Taylor says this step is one example of how some classrooms aren't wheelchair accessible.

"There have been some issues, it being a very old building, some mold issues," said Taylor.

Taylor says floors have had to be repaired, but are already cracking again.  She adds the halls are cold, their bills are high.

Taylor says their students are going to learn wherever they are, but she says a new facility would just enhance the experience.

"They deserve it for the technology, they deserve it for the athletics, they deserve it for the academics," said Taylor.

The middle school right now has 438 5th and 6th graders.  If the  building is torn down, the new building will have rocks from the old building as part of the new structure.  You'll recall the Paragould School District received a partnership grant that would provide about 7 point 8 million dollars for facilities improvements.

The district will be responsible for the rest of the money, about 9 point 5 million, to help fund the 6 projects.  Again, the vote on the proposed millage increase is set for February 8th.

The polling sites include Paragould High School Main Entrance, Oak Grove Elementary Gym, 7th and Mueller Church of Christ and Sr. Bees Center.  Early voting is February 1-4 and February 7th. 

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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