CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Voters
for the Buffalo Island Central School District.
The proposal failed by 100 votes to build what the superintendent said are much-needed, new facilities.
"We're probably one of the very last school districts that still has chalkboards," Superintendent Gaylon Taylor said. "That's unheard of. We don't have indoor sprinkler systems in case of a fire, safe rooms in case of a tornado. We need to be able to provide the most up-to-date options for our kids and teachers."
This is the second time the millage increase proposal has failed in the past year.
The latest proposal was to build a K-6th grade campus in Leachville and a 7th-12th grade campus in Monette.
"It's very evident that they do not want it thus far," Taylor said. "We have lots of people in the Monette, Leachville and Black Oak communities that the millage would only affect through personal property. It wouldn't affect them through the tax from the real estate tax. For some reason we can't get that message to those individuals and those are the individuals who are voting 'no' regardless of what it might cost them."
Superintendent Taylor said he is very disappointed, but not defeated. He said the district is considering a third run at the polls in January to vote on a millage increase.
"We do have a little time," Taylor said. "We have 18 months from April 30 to pass a millage and sign construction contracts. If we're able to pass the millage increase then, the state would match and give our district up to $11 million for the project."
If the millage increase would pass in January, Taylor said the district would have until April 2019 to finish the new buildings.
Until then, administrators are trying to figure out the best way to cut costs while providing the best education.
Taylor said salary increases for teachers and better technology for classrooms are now on hold and other cuts are possible.
"It's a matter of restructuring what we have in existence now to try to better use the funds we have available through our local tax money to make sure it goes as far as possible," he said. "We were able to give our teachers a bonus in December and we hoped to carry that over. But we can't do that because now we're gonna have to spend that money to take care of building projects that have to be done before we start school."
These projects include updating fire alarms, exit signs and emergency lighting.
"We're trying to fix the systems we have in place now and make them more functionable," Taylor said.