Fort Smith To Vote Millage Increase In May

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- During a meeting Monday (March 12), the Fort Smith Board of Education voted unanimously, 7-0, in favor of a millage increase that will continue to better Fort Smith schools.

The board voted  to ask for a 5.558 millage increase, which will be on the ballot for May 22.

For a $100,000 real estate valued home, homeowners would pay an extra $9.26 a month than the current millage rate.

"I think it was a long time coming," Greg Magness, school board member said. "It doesn`t take a genius to know that many of our facilities have kind of fallen behind the communities around us."

The topic of security was discussed by the board for a large part of the meeting.

"Making sure that we make it that much more difficult for anyone to do things that we would to want to have happen at our schools and this proposal is reflects a lot of different things that we can do to make our schools that much more secure so that our teachers can be thinking about teaching and our students can focus on learning," Doug Brubaker, Fort Smith Public School superintendent said.

The funds from the proposed millage increase, if passed, will go toward school district improvements. A citizen's committee proposed projects will cost upward of $120 million.

"You don`t walk into our schools and think this is one of the best high schools in the nation when it really is," Magness said. "Even though I don`t generally support tax increases, that`s not my general point of view. But, there are times that you really need to spend some more money to get one what you need."

Administration and board member said they're also focused on making sure the public is aware of the timeline for these changes.

"We are reinvesting in our assets, we are trying to rebuild or build assets and we just need to do a great job of communicating what we are going to do, how we`re going to maintain existing as well as new and that`s a responsibility of the district and the board holding the district accountable to making sure that information gets out," Talicia Richardson, school board member said.

The committee was needed to help decide whether resources are available for school improvements. Some of the projects proposed include new storm shelters, gyms and locker rooms and technology expansions.

If the millage increase is passed by voters, the project planning and construction is estimated to be complete by August of 2021.

For more about Fort Smith Public Schools, click here.