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The fate of Mountain Home High School’s remodel now lies in the hands of voters, as early voting for Mountain Home Public School’s proposed millage increase begins tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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.
Early voting will run until Aug. 8, with election day following on Aug. 9.
Mountain Home High School has gone through several changes throughout its lifespan. In 1989, the school decided to enclose its original buildings under a metal roof in an effort to save the school district money by avoiding a costly remodel.
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 costly repairs to keep classrooms functioning.
The original roof, accessible through the gymnasium, still resides overhead with members of Arkansas’s State Facilities Division stating “had never seen anything like it” during a tour of the campus.
And while inspectors have turned a blind eye to the failings of the original roof and the major fire hazard that it represents, 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.
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
The new school designs focus on making better use of space by expanding the school upwards instead of outwards, making room for potential three-story buildings.
The new designs have also added a new emphasis on wood, corten steel, gabion stone walls, metal paneling, and bluestone. Previous artwork depicted a modern, simpler aesthetic with a focus stone and large windows to bring in light.
And while some voters have shown concerns over building a “Taj Mahal” for students, Mountain Home Public Schools Superintendent Jake Long said the focus on using a variety of construction materials would keep the price down over using a traditional steel and brick model, which has seen exorbitant price rises, while still making the school pleasing to look at.
“It’s still a square building,” Long said.
Other concerns for the new building include concerns over school shooters, windows, and outdoor classrooms. Long said that the district has worked with its on-campus officers to develop a school design that will allow officers to see threats coming to students while still keeping them safe.
He also said that a special ballistic film could be added to the campus’s windows.
“We’ve addressed this question with the SROs, and their response is, we need to be able to see outside. We need to be able to see in. The school safety issues are not necessarily the windows. The safety issues are not being able to secure the doors,” Long said.
Early voting for the Special School Election polls will be open Tuesday, August 2 through Monday, August 8 from 8:00 am to 4:30pm.
Early Voting locations will be:
Baxter County Courthouse– 1 East 7th Mountain Home.
Election Commission Headquarters 213 E 5th St., Mountain Home
August 9, 2022 SPECIAL SCHOOL ELECTION DAY polls open at 7:30 am and close at 7:30 pm at the following locations and addresses:
Baxter County Courthouse, 1 East 7th St. Mountain Home, AR.72653
Lakeview City Hall, 14 Skyles Lane, Lakeview, AR
Eastside Baptist Church, 718 East 9th St., Mountain Home, AR. 72653
Henderson Fire Station, 12487 Hwy 62 East, Henderson, AR. 725444,
Midway Safety Training Center, 170 Dillard Drive, Midway, AR. 72651
Northeast Lakeside Fire Station, 5482 Hwy 62 East, Mountain Home, AR.72653
Election Commission Headquarters, 213 E. 5th ST., Mountain Home, AR 72653
A list of appointed election officials, deputy clerks, or additional deputies hired to conduct the early voting can be located on the door of the Baxter County & Circuit Clerk’s office beginning July 15, 2022.
Any person who objects to the service of a designated poll worker must make it known to the County Board of Election Commissioners within seven calendar days. The deadline for objections must be received before the date of the election.
Baxter County Election Commissioners – Judy Garner
Baxter County Courthouse (or call) – 479-755-5412
1 East 7th St. Mountain Home, AR 72653
Votes will be tabulated at the Baxter County Courthouse after the closing of the polls on Election Day.
Hearings will be held for Provisional Ballots that are rejected on the following Monday, August 15, 2022, from 10 a.m. till noon.
The deadline to register to vote in this Special School Election is July 11, 2022.
Sample Ballots are available online at https://www.voterview.ar-nova.org.