Early voting underway on millage increase for Bryant School District

Early voting for the special election for area citizens to consider a millage increase for the Bryant School District is underway at Grace Church, 4200 Highway 5 in Bryant from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and March 3-9 at the Vote Here Center, 221 No. Main in Benton from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On election day, Tuesday, March 10, all polling sites will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Registered voters living in the Bryant School District (not just the city of Bryant) are eligible to vote. Go to voterview.org to check eligibility.

Advocates for the millage have issued the following information:

School facilities are community assets with direct correlation to economic growth, home values, and overall quality of life.

Bryant Public Schools are projected by the state to enroll an average of 300 new students each year over the next 10 years.

Most schools in the District have reached or are near maximum enrollment.

When the grade level at your student’s assigned school is full, he/she is overflowed to Bryant Elementary School or Bryant Middle School. Both of these schools are near capacity.

There are over 2,700 students on the Bryant High School campus.

The two cafeterias on the high school campus cannot accommodate the 2,700 students even utilizing multiple lunch periods.

Space is not available on the high school campus to add new career education programs to meet the needs of all students.

Students aspire to have facilities that reflect the pride and expectations of the Bryant Public School District and its patrons.

Bryant High School has an excellent band/instrumental music program. The current facility has a capacity of 100 students. The current band is approaching 250 members with anticipated numbers reaching 300 in two years.

Love Auditorium, built in 1984, was designed for a district student population of just over 4,500. The district now has over 9,000 students. The more polished our student performers are, the more it becomes obvious we desperately need a fine arts auditorium to highlight these accomplished students.

Bryant High School gymnasium was built in 1964 when the district had less than 1,800 students. The district now enrolls over 9,000 students. The gymnasium could host countless school and community events, week-after-week, impacting thousands of students, parents, community members and spectators.

If the millage fails, portable buildings will have to be utilized to house students to meet the district’s growth.

The Department of Facilities and Transportation approved partnership funding at $21.4 million to help address immediate facility needs. The state contribution reduces the tax burden on our local patrons.

A portion of the partnership funds totaling $3.1 million, along with revenue from second lien bonds and building fund balance, have allowed the District to move forward with roofing pojects and HVAC/electrical upgrades at the high school, and additional classrooms, restrooms, improved security and kitchen facilities at Davis and Collegeville elementary schools.

In order to receive the remaining partnership funding of approximately $18 million, the District is required to seek a millage increase to secure funding for the remainder of state approved projects.

The needed projects include the following:

  • new cafeteria on high school campus
  • conversion of Building 2 on Bryant High School campus to classrooms
  • HVAC/electrical upgrades on BHS campus
  • new elementary school (location to be determined)
  • new middle school (Hill Farm property)
  • additions and renovations at Bryant Elementary School

An additional project approved by the state and expected to be funded by May 1, 2015, is the conversion of Bryant Middle School to a junior high school (8th and 9th grades) to free up classroom space at the high school. This would include:

  • additional classrooms for junior high
  • new larger cafeteria for junior high
  • new PE facility for elementary
  • renovate middle school cafeteria to larger updated media center
  • expansion of band/instrumental music space for junior high

Other proposed projects include:

  • 2,200 seat arena to host school, district and community events
  • performing arts facility at the high school for school, district and community events
  • continue to address safety/security issues

Student enrollment is projected to grow an average of 300 students each year for the next 10 years.

The current millage rate is 37.2.

The District is proposing to raise the millage RATE by 4.9 mills to provide facilities needed to educate our growing student population.

If the initiative is approved by voters, the new rate will be 42.1 MILLS. 

Current Saline County Millage Rates

Bryant 37.2

Benton   41.9

Bauxite 38.6

Harmony Grove 41.8

Local funding for public schools is calculated in terms of millage. The amount of taxes you pay depends on your property assessment.

The following table reflects the 4.9 mill increase per property assessment at the given values:

Pages-from-Millage-Fact-Sheet

 

The District will be required to forfeit approximately $18 million in state facilities funding and face possible Facilities Distress if millage fails.

 

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