Submitted photo EAGLE ENTRANCE: Jackson, Brown and Palculict Architects in Little Rock developed renderings of a joint lobby for a possible new high school, Eagle Arena and dining area at Cutter Morning Star. The district will ask voters next month to add 8.4 new debt service mills and extend 15.5 current mills to fund the project.

Submitted photo EAGLE ENTRANCE: Jackson, Brown and Palculict Architects in Little Rock developed renderings of a joint lobby for a possible new high school, Eagle Arena and dining area at Cutter Morning Star. The district will ask voters next month to add 8.4 new debt service mills and extend 15.5 current mills to fund the project.

Cutter Morning Star outlines millage proposal

By Jay Bell
This article was published August 12, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

Representatives from the Cutter Morning Star School District and affiliated advisers offered details to members of the community Thursday on next month's millage vote.

The district is requesting 8.4 new debt service mills and the extension of 15.5 existing mills to 2047, 12 years beyond their current expiration date, to qualify for more than $7.8 million in partnership funding from the state. Construction bonds would generate $10.255 million to construct and equip a new high school and basketball arena, as well as other facilities around the campus.

The total budget for the construction of new school and arena is $14,463,575. The district will be responsible for less than $8.2 million after receiving approval for $6.255 million through the state's Academic Facilities Partnership Program.

"There is money on board for us to partner with the Arkansas Department of Education," said Eddy Slick, vice president of the Cutter Morning Star School Board. "They will help us pay for this new facility."

The Sentinel-Record/Mara Kuhn CUTTER CASE: Eddy Slick, vice president of the Cutter Morning Star School Board, detailed the district's millage increas...

Slick noted partnership funding may not be available in the future after Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked the Advisory Committee on Public School Academic Facilities last month to recommend changes to the state's funding process for the construction and improvement of school buildings. Hutchinson said the state's average investment of $100 million per year into school facilities is unsustainable.

The total of $7,812,097 in partnership funding would be applied to a number of projects, including a new roof, fire alarm, sprinklers, ventilation, wiring and plumbing for the current gym, ventilation in the cafeteria and work at the elementary school. The cost of all the combined projects is estimated to be about $18 million.

The district worked with Ray Beardsley, of First Security Beardsley Public Finance, for the financial planning. Dawson Education Service Cooperative facilities specialist Leslie Dyess worked with the district to plan for the projects.

Slick said few steps will be taken toward developing designs of the new buildings until the annual school election on Sept. 19. Jackson Brown Palculict Architects in Little Rock developed the only renderings for the project so far.

Superintendent Nancy Anderson stressed the large increase request is based on the meager returns for each mill in the district. According to the district, one mill for Cutter Morning Star generates $43,831. Each mill in Mountain Pine generates $54,529, $131,366 in Jessieville, $393,015 in Fountain Lake, $426,038 in Lake Hamilton and $454,873 for Lakeside.

Voters in the Hot Springs School District approved 4.4 new mills last year and a 15-year extension of 10.8 debt service mills. The approximate revenue per mill for Hot Springs is $594,762.

"For us to keep pace with that, have competitive facilities and a proper education environment, we feel like we need to pass this millage," Slick said.

Slick said the new high school would feature the latest technology, science labs, performing arts spaces, a media center and an updated dining area. The old high school could be repurposed. The district suggested possibilities as a wellness center, vocational campus, aviation training center or space for a partnership with a higher educational institution.

"In this new facility, we will be able to bring all of the newest technology and new spaces to our children to help keep them up to date and current," Slick said.

The current high school was built in 1960. Anderson said maintenance costs at the high school and gym have become increasingly difficult to maintain.

"Parent, school, civic and community groups have held meetings and given their input," Slick said. "They all expressed concerns and the desire for a new high school. We have a commitment to students, parents, staff and the community to provide a safe and secure learning environment. We want to provide the newest facilities and the best, most safe area we can for our kids and future generations that come through Cutter Morning Star."

A resident with $100,000 of appraised real estate value would see their annual taxes increase from $810 per year to $978 per year.

Cutter Morning Star currently has the third-highest millage rate in Garland County at 40.5. The district was passed in recent years when voters in Hot Springs, 42.1, and Lake Hamilton, 40.6, approved millage increases. The rates for other public school districts in the county are Jessieville, 38.7; Mountain Pine, 37.9; Lakeside, 37.7; and Fountain Lake, 34.8.

Aug. 21 is the deadline to register to vote in the election. Election day voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the multipurpose building. Early voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 12-15 and Sept. 18 at the Garland County Election Commission building, 649-A Ouachita Ave.

Local on 08/12/2017

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