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MH Superintendent to host millage conversations ahead of August special election

Dr. Jake Long, Superintendent of Mountain Home Public Schools will host informational meetings related to the proposed millage increase each Thursday evening – beginning July 7 – from 5-6 p.m. in the Mountain Home High School Cafeteria.

During these meetings, Dr. Long will answer questions from constituents, conduct tours of the facilities in need of replacement, and discuss future plans for the two phases of proposed renovations. 

Long said he believes that if residents and voters see some of the challenges on the high school campus, they will understand the need for the millage increase.

“People who have taken the tour of the facilities have been shocked at some of the issues we’re facing related to student and staff safety, the challenges that come along with an aging building, and the lack of space for some of our most impactful programs,” he said. “Most everyone I have taken on the tour was very impressed with the way the district has responsibly used taxpayer dollars to keep this building – which is more than 50 years old – in operation, but I think most have also agreed that it is time to start from scratch on the older parts of this campus. We’re just at a point where we can’t continue to put Band-Aids on these issues.”

In addition to these Thursday evening meetings, Long will also hold one of his recurring Walk-In Wednesday events on July 20 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. This event allows interested parties to drop in and visit with Long at their convenience.

His focus for conversations during this event is on school safety and security across the district and to answer questions related to the upcoming millage ballot measure.

In March, 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 School District 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 three-story building.

The school board has set a special election date of Aug. 9.

This special election will, subject to the voters’ approval, permit the District to proceed promptly with the sale and issuance of the proposed bonds in the principal amount of $47,000,000.

If approved, Phase One 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 two-story 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 district’s updated contract with Modus Studio, the architectural firm that drew up the remodeling plans for the high school, the total cost of Phase One would cost $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 two-story 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.

Now, 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.

A walk through the campus halls reveals sections of the floors and walls that show signs of being jack-hammered out for maintenance before being filled back in again.

The original roof, accessible through the gymnasium, still rests inside the infrastructure while decaying and serves no purpose to the school. Members of Arkansas’s State Facilities Division toured the original structure last fall and said they “had never seen anything like it.”

Those interested in the Thursday evening meetings or the Walk-In Wednesday event may contact the district’s administrative office at 425-1201 with questions. 

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