Voters in Pulaski Special School District must implement plan to raise $ 80 million without tax hikes; two candidates run without opposition in the November 2 elections

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Pulaski County Special School District Leaders Told Voters Nov 2 with Plan to Raise $ 80 Million for School Expansions and Other Improvements Without Raising Annual Taxes or Extending the Levy of Service Taxes of debt beyond their current expiration date of 2048.

Advance voting before polling day will take place Tuesday through Friday and November 1.

Also in the election, Heather Smith of Sherwood and Laurel Tait of Pulaski West County will join the seven-member school board, replacing Linda Remele and Brian Maune, who were not re-elected. Since Smith has no opposition for the Zone 3 seat and Tait has no opposition for the Zone 7 seat, their names will not appear on the ballots like the allows Arkansas code annotated 7-5-2078 (2) (A).

“[U]Candidates opposed to all positions, including school board positions, will be declared and certified elected without the need to include those names on the general election ballot, ”the law said.

Remele, district president since 2016, on Friday called the $ 80 million tax-free campus improvement fundraising plan a “win-win” for the district and taxpayers.

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Charles McNulty, the district superintendent, said very preliminary artistic renderings of the building improvements have been developed, but community members and employees will be invited to participate in formulating more detailed designs if the plan is to fund gets voter approval.

“Just the facts – we are developing a bond restructuring plan based on our master plan of [make] our 21st century learning facilities buildings, ”McNulty said Friday. “It’s not a mileage extension or a mileage increase. He’s taking advantage of high valued value in our district and getting the money right here, right now for our students. “

Plans for new money if the bond debt restructuring plan is approved include:

• $ 35 million for the expansion of Robinson High School in West Pulaski County to increase capacity to 1,500 students.

• $ 15 million for a multi-purpose facility at Mills University Studies High School.

[RELATED: Full coverage of elections in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/elections/]

• $ 11 million for sports facilities at Maumelle High School, including an indoor training facility, baseball and softball fields.

• $ 5 million for the expansion of Baker Elementary School to increase capacity to 700 students

• $ 3 million for improvements to College Station Elementary and an additional $ 3 million for building improvements at Harris Elementary.

Construction plans, which affect each of the four sections of the 12,000 student system, also include a music hall for Sylvan Hills High, a new school bus land for the northwest section of the district, and improvements to the district. interior and exterior lighting.

To complete the construction projects, the district – with the approval of the voters – will refinance and restructure its bond debt. In total, the district would issue up to $ 130,425,000 in bonds that would repay existing bonds and generate $ 80 million for new projects. The district’s 14.8 debt-servicing property tax mills would produce the money the district needs each year to pay off bond debt by 2048.

Jack Truemper of Stephens Inc., the district’s financial advisor, explained the elements of the financial plan to the school board earlier this year, saying the district had three previously approved bond issues, from 2012, 2016 and 2017, which are due be reimbursed. by 2035. He recommended extending the final maturity of these three bond issues and their debt payments until 2048, when the district’s 14.8 existing debt service factories are expected to expire. .

There would be lower debt service payments on the bonds until 2035, and then, when the older bonds are paid off by 2035, the larger debt service payments on the new bonds would go into effect.

“What we basically do is level your payments,” Truemper told the school board.

The plan would not result in a tax increase for landowners in the district, he said, nor does it call for an extension of the $ 14.8 million in debt service from the overall rate of $ 40. , 7 million of the district beyond the current expiration rate of 2048,

“This provides the district with a way to generate funds for various projects and not change the mileage rate at all for customers in the Pulaski County Special School District,” Truemper said. “I would call it a restructuring and expansion of those three bond issues – extending their maturity up to the 2048 maturity level where the bosses approved your debt servicing factories.”

If the measure is not passed, the debt service tax rate in the district will remain at 14.8 million until 2048, but schools will not receive improvements and / or expansions, have said district leaders.

Voter approval of the district mileage rate has not always passed in the history of the district – even when no change in mileage rate or bond structure is proposed.

The Pulaski County Special District, like all school systems in Arkansas, is required by the Arkansas Constitution to put its tax rate on the school election ballot every year, even if no change is not offered. Voting on an unchanged mileage rate – favorable or not – can be seen as a measure of public satisfaction with a school district.

As late as the November 2020 school board elections, which were combined with the general election, more than 56 percent of voters disapproved of the district’s overall tax rate of $ 40.7 million that called for no change. Likewise, 54.39% voted against the current mileage in the November 2016 elections.

When the current mileage rate plan is defeated, the rate remains the same.

Voters in the Pulaski County Special District approved a proposed mileage extension in a special election in June 2017 to fund the Sylvan Hills High expansion. A majority of voters approved the existing tax rates for the district in 2018 and 2019.


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