The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
District May Drop Millage Increase
By Steve Caraway
THE MORNING NEWS
FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayetteville School District will drop the idea of a millage increase to build a high school if the school board follows the recommendation of its administration.
Administrators recommended the district use money from the Qualified School Construction Bond program to improve Fayetteville High School. The recommendation came in a special work session of the school board on Thursday.
The state allocated $52.3 million from the construction bond program to Fayetteville, originally to be used in conjunction with money from an 4.9-mill property tax increase. Voters rejected the increase in September.
The proposal recommended Thursday by administrators would make $45.3 million available for the high school. The remainder of the state construction bond will pay for part of the new Happy Hollow Elementary School.
The board needs to vote on its intent to use the construction bond allotment at its Oct. 22 meeting, said Lisa Morstad, district chief financial officer.
The board is also in the middle of picking an architect and construction company. If the board makes its choice in November, the architect would have about two months until the board meeting in January to make plans for high school renovations. The board would need to approve the proposal in January to issue bonds by March, Morstad said.
"We wouldn't have a complete set of plans by then, but we should know what $45.3 million would buy," said Vicki Thomas, superintendent. "That would let the board have an idea of the scope of the project."
The district received notice the state allotted the bonds in September, days after the millage increase was rejected 6,382 to 3,672. Fayetteville's portion of the bonds was 46 percent of Arkansas' total project funds.
The construction bond program is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those buying the bonds receive tax credits in place of the interest the district would usually have to pay.
The district will pay back the construction bond with $5 million in stimulus money the district previously received, $2 million in second lien funds, $6 million in capital reserve, a reduction in debt payment after refinancing in January and a $2.5 million reduction in the budget for the life of the bonds. The expected payoff for the bonds is 16 years.
"This is an opportunity you see once in a long time," Morstad said. "Maybe once in a lifetime."
Fayetteville Schools Election Survey
The district is still accepting survey cards it mailed to voters after the failed millage election. The district has received about 3,000 responses from the 10,054 who voted.
Source: Fayetteville Public Schools
AT A GLANCE
Architect and Construction Companies
The Fayetteville School Board shortened the lists from which it plans to select an architect and a construction manager.
• Allison Architects of Fayetteville partnering with Little Diversified Architectural Consulting of Charlotte, N.C.
• Crafton, Tull, Sparks of Rogers partnering with Perkins+Will of San Francisco
• Hight-Jackson Associates of Rogers partnering with DLR Group of Overland Park, Kan., and Marlon Blackwell of Fayetteville
• Polk Stanley Wilcox of Fayetteville partnering with Concordia LLC and Fanning Howey of New Orleans
• Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson of Fayetteville partnering with Perkins Eastman Architects of New York
• Baldwin Shell of Rogers
• CDI Contractors of Johnson
• Crossland Construction Co. of Rogers
• Flintco of Springdale
• Nabholz Construction of Rogers
Source: Fayetteville Public Schools