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Greenwood School District Pursues Millage Hike

<p>PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER</p><p>The Greenwood School Board voted Thursday night, June 12, 2014, to ask voters in September for a 1.9 mill increase to fund a Freshman Center.</p>

PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER

The Greenwood School Board voted Thursday night, June 12, 2014, to ask voters in September for a 1.9 mill increase to fund a Freshman Center.

<p>PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER</p><p>On behalf of Greenwood East Hills Middle School, Principal Beth Dixon, left, accepts a ceremonial $54,096 check Thursday night from District 75 state Rep. Charlotte Vining Douglas, R-Alma, as part of the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward program. Greenwood Junior High School was given a $49,262 check.</p>

PHOTO BY CHAD HUNTER

On behalf of Greenwood East Hills Middle School, Principal Beth Dixon, left, accepts a ceremonial $54,096 check Thursday night from District 75 state Rep. Charlotte Vining Douglas, R-Alma, as part of the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward program. Greenwood Junior High School was given a $49,262 check.

To help fund a new Freshman Center, the Greenwood School District plans to ask voters for an additional 1.9 mills in September.

Thursday night, the Greenwood School Board approved a resolution that requests the Sebastian County Election Commission prepare the ballot.

“It will go to vote on the Sept. 16 election,” Superintendent John Ciesla said. “We’re excited to educate our voters and the community on what we’re looking at.”

Ciesla said the long-planned Freshman Center addition to the high school will address space issues for the district’s estimated 3,600 students.

“Currently, we’re full,” he said. “We have portable buildings at Westwood Elementary. Our East Pointe Elementary is at capacity. Our junior high is also at capacity. We have a little room left in our middle school and at our high school.”

If approved by voters, the additional millage would put the district’s rate at 40.6 mills. The school district is already approved for $2.3 million worth of partnership funding from the Arkansas Department of Education’s facilities division to help build the Freshman Center, Ciesla said.

“To combat enrollment growth, the division estimates we need about 390 slots for students,” Ciesla said. “We feel like this will be an effective way to manage our enrollment growth.”

District administrators have said they estimate the total cost for the center to run from $10 million to $12 million, depending on its scope.

“We feel like this is the most economical, prudent way to handle our growth,” Ciesla said. “With all the growth that’s going on out at Chaffee Crossing and this area, the new jobs, it’s an exciting time for the entire region. This will just help us prepare for the future.”

Also Thursday, District 75 state Rep. Charlotte Vining Douglas, R-Alma, presented two schools with ceremonial checks for a total of $103,358 from the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward program.

“What is unusual about this award tonight is that this program has been on the books for 10 years,” Douglas said. “But this last session … the Legislature finally had the foresight to fund it.”

Funding was given to high-performing schools based on their number of students. In Greenwood, East Hills Middle School received $54,096, while the junior high received $49,262 to “use however they want to.”

“It’s based on achievement, as well as the ground you’ve already gained,” Douglas said.

In other business, the school board approved a meal increase of 5 cents, from $1.80 to $1.85.

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