Batesville School District looking to make million dollar improvements

Batesville School District looking to make million dollar improvements

BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - The Batesville School District is calling for the community’s input on “securing the future.” The district has come up with three different plans to meet each school’s needs.

Those plans range from minimum to complete plans and cost between $45 to 85 million.

“The plans have two goals. Classroom space... we’re growing, we’re out of space. Our enrollment is growing and we are out of space. The second goal is school safety. We are trying to bring all of our facilities up to the safety audit standard,” Batesville School District Superintendent Michael Hester said.

District administrators have visited with all schools and sat down with stakeholders to see what each individual school needed. He says now they are looking for the community’s input before they present it to the school board.

Through this survey, Hester says they will present the most approved plan with hopes that it will pass on the March 3 election ballot. These three plans are depending on a property tax. Each plan breaks down the impact it will have on each property owner starting at $39 to $314 yearly.

Hester says this is an investment in our future and our students.

“This is really about our future of Batesville, if we want to continue to be the economic hub and if we want to be the educational leaders. So it can’t get any more important than that for our town and for our school system," Hester said.

There was some push back in the room about how much the mileage would be increased. Mileage rates are based on property assessments. The current mileage for those in the Batesville School District area is 38.75 and with those plans, the millage will be increased between eight and 15 mills, according to the state Assessment Coordination Department website.

One lifetime resident and 30-year retired school staff member was present for the meeting and says this something that needs well consideration.

“I feel like it’s needed, but we will have to see and study it more to see how much it will raise our taxes. We are in our retirement years now, but I want the best for all the children in this area,” Maryland Brewer said.

Karen Beller attended school in Batesville and now has a student in the district. Beller says this is something we have to do as a district.

“We’ve got x number of things that have to be done and we can either bite the bullet and do it now. Or we can piece it out over every five years and at the end of 25 years, we’re going to have to start over again. Yes, it’s going to hurt a little bit, a lot really, but we have to invest in this,” Beller said.

Hester says the school district will continue to work to educate more about why it is necessary and what it will benefit over the next coming weeks. He says the district will send out a letter Friday addressing all of the concerns from Thursday’s town hall meeting.

Region 8 News will continue to cover the issue over the next four months.

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