With its May election right around the corner, the Mountain Home School Board received an update on the district’s proposed high school remodel from Modus Studio during a quarterly work session on March 31.
Last month, the school board voted to approve a proposed budget that included a millage increase to cover the proposed $47 million remodel cost. If approved, Mountain Home residents can expect a 2.25 millage tax increase, which would cover the cost of the district’s three-year-long, two-phase remodeling plan to see a portion of the campus torn down and rebuilt into a two-story building.
The school board has set a special election date of Aug. 9, a few months after the district’s annual school board election on May 24.
“We’ve spent some time developing the facility maps, the plan, and the schematic design for your high school,” said Josh Seibert, a partner at Modus Studio.
Modus Studio’s presentation revealed a design shift towards the new high school remodel. While artwork of the potential remodel has been shown in previous articles, the new designs focus on making better use of space by expanding the school upwards instead of outwards, making room for potential three-story buildings.
A new emphasis on wood, corten steel, gabion stone walls, metal paneling, and bluestone has also been added to the new designs. Previous artwork depicted a modern, simpler aesthetic with a focus stone and large windows to bring in light.
Seibert said changes were made to account for the rising cost of materials, the difficulty in procuring construction materials, and student/teacher input.
“Last time we came on campus, we met with staff and students and were able to get a lot of feedback from them,” Seibert said. “For us, we naturally wanted to start asking questions like what do you want to do in the facility? Where do you want things in that facility? And so, we’ve started testing these things.”
After a slide show presentation to show off the new concept for the high school remodel, Seibert gave the school board a digital walkthrough of the campus to give board members an idea students can expect when entering the new buildings for the first time.
The tour showed a school built around school security, open lighting, strategic office and classroom placement, outdoor spaces, and multi-use spaces.
Dr. Long is also working with Modus to ensure that the new cafeteria kitchen will provide flexibility to those who use it.
“I really want to make sure that we create that as multiple options, flexible space, even in the kitchens,” said Dr. Long.
If voters approved the millage tax increase in August, Phase One of the remodel would see the front office, three labs, six classrooms, a teacher’s lounge, and an additional pair of classrooms torn down to make way for a new 117,000 square foot building.
The new building would boast:
2,800 feet of administrative space for staff members
- 32 classrooms
- Two exterior classrooms
- New restrooms
- A 5,000 square foot library
- A brand-new 12,800 cafeteria
- A 3,900-foot kitchen
Under the new designs, students can expect to score some elevated outdoor classroom spaces and a secure, outdoor courtyard to enjoy. The total cost of Phase One runs around $20.9 million.
Phase two of the project would be smaller in scale, knocking down 84,000 square feet of the oldest section of the original 1966 building from the current cafeteria to the library.
That section would be replaced with a new 125,200 square foot structure that would feature:
- An additional 3,200 feet of administrative space
- 12 more classrooms
- Two new labs focusing on electronics and agriculture
- 4,500 square feet of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps space
- 13,000 square feet of multipurpose space
- A 6,200 square foot wrestling gymnasium
- A 4,200 dance studio
- Two full locker rooms for basketball and physical education
- 62 new parking spaces
Mountain Home High School has gone under several renovations throughout the years. In 1989, the school’s original 1966 buildings were covered with the high school’s current metal roof, enclosing several sections of the campus that had previously been outside with a metal structure.
Over 30 years since its enclosure, the oldest section of the school is starting to show its age. The 1966 section of the campus still features its original plumbing and wiring, forcing the district to do patchwork repairs to keep that section of campus functioning.
The original roof, accessible through the gymnasium, still rests inside the infrastructure while decaying and serves no purpose to the school outside of being a fire hazard. Members of Arkansas’s State Facilities Division toured the original structure last fall and said they “had never seen anything like it.”
That area of the campus has no overhead sprinklers to help fight fires, and the enclosed classrooms and multi-level hallways could potentially pose a risk to students attempting to flee a fire. The school’s old roof has been called a “nightmare” by local firefighters.
Who can vote?
When it comes to the vote on the millage increase, only registered voters living within the Mountain Home School District will be able to cast a ballot. The same goes for the upcoming May 24 Mountain Home School Board elections.
The time window to register to vote for this year’s upcoming elections is quickly coming to a head on Monday, April 25.
Early voting will begin on Monday, May 9, and end on Monday, May 23. Early voting sites will be open to voters from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Early voting sites close at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 23.
On election day, May 24, voters can cast their votes from 7 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Anyone waiting in line at the 7:30 p.m. cut-off time will still be allowed to cast their ballot so long as they don’t leave.
New residents or new voters can visit the Baxter County Clerk’s Office at the Baxter County Courthouse in Mountain Home to register to vote or update their information. Voter registration forms can also be found on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website at sos.arkansas.gov.
Sample ballots can be found at voterview.ar-nova.org.
Early voting polling stations can be found at the Baxter County Courthouse, Eastside Baptist Church, and the Twin Lakes Plaza shopping center. The same polling stations will be used for election day on May 24.