FORT SMITH (TB&P) — Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck is going back to school. He will soon be in charge of security for the around 15,000 Fort Smith Public School students in 19 elementary schools, four junior highs, two senior highs, one alternative learning center, and one adult education center.
Hollenbeck, who will be the first director of security and facilities for the school district, will begin the job on Nov. 19. He will be paid around $104,000 a year.
His sheriff salary was between $90,000 and $95,000.
The job is a result of May 22 voter approval of a district millage increase. Fort Smith voters said yes to a school millage increase, the first in 31 years, with approximately 62% of voters — around 78% of whom were Republicans, according to the county’s voter turnout numbers — approving the 5.558 millage gain.
The new millage rate will rise to 42.058 from 36.5 that was set in 1987. The new rate is expected to raise $120.822 million, $35 million of which will go toward district-wide safety improvements. The proposal calls for $10.365 million to secure the walls and doors of Barling, Cook, Morrison, and Woods elementary schools. An additional $5.5 million would be allocated for improvements to access controls, alarms, lighting, and accessibility measures across all campuses. The Board has said safety and security improvements are priority-one for implementation. The new millage would allow the changes to be completed by fall 2019.
Part of the security focus also includes the district hiring three certified school security officers in the next few weeks, increasing the number of licensed law-enforcement staffers from four to seven. Hollenbeck told Talk Business & Politics he’s proud to be part of the expanded effort to improve school security.
To read more from sheriff Hollenbeck about the new position, visit Talk Business & Politics.