School District is Six Weeks Away From Millage Election

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Bentonville Superintendent Michael Poore and school board members are meeting with as many groups as they can before the September 17th millage election. For the second time, the school district is asking voters to approve a millage increase. However, this time voters will decide on a 2.9 millage instead of a 6.7 millage.

"We want to make sure that we leave no rock unturned in terms of our efforts to inform the public of this need," Poore said.

He met with the Friends of the Bentonville Library Monday (August 5) at the Arvest Conference Room in Downtown Bentonville. He made a presentation and answered questions about the proposed second high school in Centerton on Gamble Road.

"If we go talk to individuals and then they share the word with 10 other people, that's really powerful," Poore said.

In order to reduce the millage they were asking for, administrators had to make the building smaller and eliminate the stadium.

"I think the first time it didn't pass because of the sports stadium and I think now that they've taken it out, I can't imagine why people wouldn't vote for it," said Jean Batta.

Batta said she's in favor of the millage but often gets questions from concerned property owners. According to the school district, a property owner who owns a $100,000 home would pay less than $5 extra a month.

The proposed millage went from 6.7 to 2.9 in hopes it will be more acceptable to voters who rejected it in June 2012.

"They cut it to 2.9, which is obviously more than half and I think it's very important," said John Douglas, a longtime Bentonville resident and former school board member. Douglas said the vote is important since it's an investment in education.

If the millage is rejected, the district will need to adjust. Poore said one option would be a split schedule.

"We don't want to be super negative but we have to be real," Poore said. "When you have 5,000 students on a campus when it's ideal capacity is 3,700, things have to change."

The high school is Centerton, if built, will have a capacity for 2,250 students. The total cost for the project will cost about $86 million, $73 million would be paid by bonds and $13 million would be paid by the state.

Voters can cast their ballots at 14 locations on September 17th and early vote on September 16 at four locations.