Clarksville School District Asks For Millage Increase To Ease Overcrowding

CLARKSVILLE (KFSM) -- The Clarksville School District has not had a millage increase in 14 years, but has expressed a major need of one.

Administration said kids have run out of places to eat lunch. In the high school building, tables have been spread into the hallway and on the stage in the lunch room, which is also shared with a Spanish class.

"Like at recess when we come in, it is pretty crowded," student Briley Reeder said.

Angie Reeder, whose son is a fourth grade student, said a millage that has been unchanged since 2002 doesn't just affect students and their parents, it affects industry and infrastructure.

"We can't get doctors to come in because the school systems aren't good," Reeder said. "They don't want their kids in our school system."

In 2015, the school wanted taxpayer money to build safe rooms, a new gym and work on the football stadium. This year however, the district has asked for enough mills to cover the cost of a new high school, which would estimate about $19 million.

"The reason that we want to build a new high school is because we have overcrowding issues in four out of five of our campuses," superintendent David Hopkins said.

The district asked voters to approve a 7.9 millage in 2015. One year later, it is asking for 4.8 mills. Hopkins said the district ran into opposition in 2015 with all the amenities it had asked for. He said the district needs to meet state standards, or it could end up in facility distress, meaning the state could take over.

"That would disband the board and remove the superintendent, and they would run the district out of Little Rock," Hopkins said.

The state has also offered the district $4.6 million to help the district build the new high school, but that money would go away if a millage increase doesn’t pass by 2017.

"Nobody likes taxes," resident John Payne said. "I agree with that theory, but it is a major problem out here and one that's going to have to be reckoned with."

The new high school would serve grades ten through twelve. The high school would turn into Clarksville Junior High for eighth and ninth graders. The current junior high would hold sixth and seventh graders, and then the elementary school would serve grades 2-5.

The high school would be built across the street from the primary school on a lot already owned by the district.

To find out how much your millage would increase, you’re asked to call the county assessor and find out the value of your home. Multiply that number by .20, and take that number and multiply by .001, which is equal to one mill. Multiply that answer by 4.8 (the millage increase Clarksville wants), and that answer will tell you how much of an increase you would see in your millage rate. If you own a $100,000 home, for example, you would see a $96 increase in your millage rate.

To learn more, there will be a town hall meeting Tuesday (Sept. 6) at 6 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center. Election Day is Sept. 20.