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Mountain Home School District’s PTO will be returning Tuesday night with its first meeting of the year at the Mountain Home High School cafeteria starting at 6 p.m.
The meeting will feature a 5:30 p.m. dinner of hotdogs, chips, and drinks provided by First Security Bank.
“We will be talking about what we hope to do and plan for this year,” said Carrie Ramsey, PTO president. “How we are making changes to benefit our schools more. And then people can tour the high school.”
This year’s first PTO meeting will host Mountain Home Superintendent Dr. Jake Long, who will speak to parents about the upcoming vote on Mountain Home High Schools’ remodel. Long will then walk the parents through the campus to show them some of the problems ailing the aging high school.
Various administrators from other campuses will also be in attendance during the meeting to allow parents to begin to put names on faces for the upcoming school year.
If approved by voters, MHHS’s original 1966 building would be demolished and rebuilt over a three-year, two-phased project that would cost the school district $47 million.
“Our issue lies in having an original 1966 campus that exists underneath this metal structure,” said Superintendent Jake Long as he pointed to a photo of MHHS’s metal roof.
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.”
And while inspectors have turned a blind eye to the failings of the original roof and the metal roof that covers it, that blind eye is not a guarantee for the unforeseeable future.
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.
To prepare for this, Long began hosting tours of the campus and its aging 1966 roof, allowing parents and voters to see firsthand the roof’s condition that rests above students’ heads every day.
The tour reveals patchwork repairs of the school’s original electrical and plumbing throughout its halls and a lack of natural light and trip hazards throughout the school’s corridors.
The tour usually takes a more serious turn in the school’s gymnasium as parents and voters head upstairs to the school’s original roof. While most stay on the stable wooden platform at the roof’s entrance, those willing to take the risk of climbing onto the roof can get a sense of how badly the roof is truly failing.
Water damage lines much of the roof, amplified by the high humidity and the 120-degree temperatures felt inside the enclosed space during hot summer days. The floor sags under each footstep as parents climb to the top, as the smell of mold and asbestos hits their noses.
At the top of the enclosed roof, the space opens up, revealing a mix of metal, insulation, and wood—a tinderbox waiting to go up in flame.
While Long has been doing weekly walkthroughs of the campus, this year’s first PTO meeting will provide another opportunity for parents to see what the school district is currently dealing with in terms of fire safety.
Aside from the tour from Long, the PTO will also discuss forming various committees, including the Spirit Committee, which will focus on selling PTO branded t-shirts and car decals. A Welcome committee will also be formed to help new students and parents with their first year of school in Mountain Home.
Also on the docket is a discussion with attendees on the myth that the PTO is a full-time gig. The PTO is currently trying to recover from the COVID pandemic after its numbers dropped from its 500-person average to around 100 participants.
Those participating in the PTO want to be sure that parents understand that the PTO can be helped on a part-time basis and that those that work full-time can still help in other ways.
The PTO will be hosting monthly meetings on the third Thursday of each month starting at 6 p.m. to better accommodate those that work, with a 5:30 p.m. meal for those that can come early.
For more information on the Mountain Home PTO, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mtnhomePTO or email [email protected]