Voters in the Pulaski County Special School District will get to decide in June whether or not to extend their property millage tax rate beyond its current expiration date 17 years from now. PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess says the extension of 40.7 mills in property tax for 30 more years would allow the district to leverage approximately $65 million in refinanced bond debt.
Guess says the money would go to build new facilities at the 2,200-student Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood.
“Sylvan Hills High School was built in the mid-to-late 60's,” says Guess. “It was built for 850 students. There are [now] 1,450 students, 9th through 12th grade, in the Sylvan Hills complex. So as you can see, we have a significant crowding problem.”
Guess says several areas of the complex are in need of expansion.
“The principal, for example, cannot provide lunch to more than 450 kids at a single time. The auditorium is small and cannot seat even half of the student body... Those are examples of critical needs but another critical point is: there's one science lab in that high school. If we're able to build the high school that we're proposing, there will be 10 science labs.”
There is no known organized opposition to the millage extension. Last week, supporters launched a campaign, called the "Committee to Continue Our Progress," to advocate for passage.
“I think it's an exciting opportunity for Sherwood. I think it's an exciting opportunity for PCSSD,” says Guess. “There is a dramatic sense of optimism and enthusiasm throughout the district.”
The election will be held Tuesday, June 13th. Early voting begins June 6th.
The Pulaski County Special School District, which serves about 12,200 students, had been under state control for more than five years after the Arkansas Board of Education deemed it to be under “fiscal distress.” Last year, the state board removed that designation and the district was able to elect a local school board.
Last week, voters in the state-controlled Little Rock School District rejected a similar question of extending a millage rate to refinance bonds.