MONETTE, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 school will try for the 2nd time to pass a millage increase for new school buildings.
In September, 60% of voters from Leachville and Monette voted no to the increase. The controversy surrounded the fact Buffalo Island Central School District planned to build a central campus on Highway 18 between the 2 towns.
Both communities voiced concern that it would negatively impact the towns if the schools were lost.
After the vote failed, Gaylon Taylor, Superintendent for Buffalo Island Central School District, decided to go back to the drawing board. He formed a committee of more than 30 community members, mostly those who opposed the millage increase.
A new plan was drafted and Taylor said if it doesn't pass this time, they may have to look into other options.
"The people that are going to hurt are going to be our kids because no longer can I put that money into the education of kids," Taylor said.
Taylor said if the millage doesn't pass the money he's been allocating to improve technology and programs will have to be used for updating the 50-year-old buildings.
"We are not large enough to have two elementary schools," Taylor said. "We are not large enough to have separate Junior High from high school because we have to share those teachers."
Taylor said 25% of their faculty drives back and forth between Leachville and Monette, taking time away from being in the classroom.
The district hopes this new plan will fix that. The new proposal is to build a K-6th grade campus in Leachville and 7th-12th grades will be in Monette.
"Even if we are able to build at Monette and Leachville, there will still be some concerns people have and I want to hear what those concerns are," Taylor said.
Some of those concerns include the expense. Paul Wildly served on the committee that helped devise the new plan.
"It's getting less for the money and they are asking for the same 9 mils," Wildly said.
He said building 2 new schools instead of just 1 central campus comes with costs.
"They are going to have be doing it at the same time, and that requires 2 contractors, 2 superintendents, 2 architects to oversee it, and it's double the expense," Wildly said.
But even with those concerns, Wildly said he's heard a lot more support for the millage since the new proposal.
"Some of the people that were against it last time are for it now because it keeps the schools in the individual towns," Wildly said.
Taylor said he understands it's a large millage increase, but it's what they need.
"With our funding, we are still going to have to pay 48% of the project and the states going to pay 52%," Taylor said.
Taylor said the goal behind this millage increase is to improve the educational experience for BIC students.
"Trying to keep our kids on the same playing field as other kids from technology standpoint to the programs we have to have to be successful," Taylor said.
The millage vote takes place May 12th.
"There's a lot of pros and cons to it, and I'm anxious to see how it turns out," Wildly said.
Buffalo Island Central is holding 2 public meetings to reach out to the public concerning the new plan. One is Thursday, April 23rd at 7 p.m. in Monette. A meeting will be held in Leachville on Thursday, April 30th at 7 p.m.