Bald Knob is looking to the future. We are excited to provide a sneak peek of what Bald Knob could offer our kids. We are asking for a 5.75 mill increase in debt service mills to construct a new elementary school and relocate power lines.
The elementary school has sections over 50 years old, and the main building built in 1976 is approaching 50 years of age. Any money spent on major renovations or systems replacement are only of a temporary nature and could be considered a poor use of funds due to the age of the school. The Division performed an inspection of the elementary school and the powerlines. The Division’s findings are (1) the Division approved both projects as necessary, (2) the powerline relocation is a safety concern and (3) the elementary school, due to its age and poor condition of most systems, qualifies for state Partnership funds for building replacement but does not qualify for state Partnership funds for systems replacements or partial renovations.
The proposed millage will allow the district to take full advantage of the state's Partnership money to provide a safer and healthier learning environment for K-5 students. Current elementary school has a number of issues: classrooms are smaller than state standards, power is lacking to provide for the technology of today, plumbing and site drainage issues, and lacks current security features. The approved millage will provide a state-of-the-art facility to equip our elementary students with 21st century skills in a safer, more secure environment.
The construction of a new elementary will provide up-to-date facilities for all students K-12.
The Partnership Program that provides state funding assistance to school districts for approved projects is competitive and on a two-year cycle. Receiving state funds in one cycle is not a guarantee of receiving funds in a future cycle. For year two of the 2021-2023 funding cycle, the elementary project ranked 5th and the power line relocation project ranked 21st out of 58 approved projects. There were 36 other projects requesting approximately $20 million from the state that were not funded in this cycle. Partnership funds must be spent and all projects completed within four years. The deadline for project completion is 2026. Time is of the essence.
The current building fund balance ($3 million+) is insufficient to make the necessary renovations. The cost of these renovations makes it imprudent to use limited district funding to make temporary repairs. The Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation (Division) evaluated three elementary buildings: main “H,” special education, and old kindergarten. Each of these facilities was given a Facilities Condition Index (FCI) rating: main “H” - 0.789, special education - 0.858, and old kindergarten - 0.925. This means the cost of renovating these buildings is 78.9%, 85.8%, and 92.5% of the cost to rebuild respectively. The need for a new facility is urgent.
Construction costs and interest rates are increasing. Beginning construction early will help to minimize the cost of the project. If the millage does not pass, the new elementary school and power line relocation projects will likely cost more as the district takes steps to either (1) pursue another special election to approve a millage increase or (2) address the temporary repairs with the current funding sources locally provided to the district, which are currently inadequate for renovations or replacement. The Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation is creating a new funding formula for all districts for future projects. A new funding formula has the potential to lessen the rate of funding and opportunity of approval for Bald Knob.
Aside from financial factors, the district places student and staff safety as a priority. The new elementary school and powerline relocation projects will both provide a safer and healthier environment for our students. The district has four years to complete the new elementary and power line projects. With an approved millage in August 2022, the projects could be completed as early as August 2024.
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