Vilonia Board of Education mulling over options for district

The Vilonia Board of Education, Monday night, was “painted a picture” of what could be done if there was money to purchase land and build an auditorium that would seat about 1,200, a career education facility, add parking as well as make other remodels and improvements on the high school campus.

There are 37 acres of land east of the high school that could be purchased, Dr. David Stephens told the board and improvements could be made. A rendering of the campus and buildings, regarding how it might look, was on a canvas allowing them to picture it. 

“It would take about $28 million to do all of this,” Stephens said, adding that it would result in an increase in millage from five to seven mills. “That could be a significant burden on our stakeholders.”

An increase of five mills, he said, could allow the project to be done in three phases or an increase of seven mills could allow it to be completed in one phase. The three phases would be spread out over at least four years. Phase one would be the auditorium/cafeteria project. Two would be the career education facility and three would include other improvements to the high school.   

In the audience, architect Steve Elliott and Jack Truemper of the financial services group Stephens Inc., also offered input. Truemper shared information on extending and restructuring bond issues as well as predictions regarding interest rates, assessment and growth in the district.  The three predicted factors, Truemper said, are valid concerns. 

It was said the acreage would cost about $190,000.  

This is just the start of a conversation,” Stephens said to the board. “We just want to get a reference out there of what could be done.”

It was said the Vilonia assessment rate is lower than the state average. Stephens said the school is a 5A school in a 2A district, assessment wise.

In other business:

--A salary increase was approved for teachers and staff including: $500 was added to base of 190 day teachers’ salary schedule;  $400 to base of 180 day classified staff salaries;  $200 to the base of bus driver salaries and $1,000 to base of administrative salary schedule

--Approved the transfer of two students to the Conway School District.

--Approved the resignations of Rachel Justice, Carolyn Ballinger, para-professional, Janis Yeager, cafeteria, and Bernice Tackett, cafeteria. Approved hiring teachers Lisa Evans and Mallory Calhoon for the 2017-18 school year. Renewed contracts of teachers and approved some changes to custodians and bus drivers as well as approved some new substitute teachers.

--Approved the purchase of diesel fuel from Mid-South at a cost of $12,481.58.

--Approved the ALE contract with Arch Ford for $118,510 which allows the district to partner and provide additional alternative learning options including participation in the JAG program. 


--Keith Hillman, director of Vilonia Emergency Services, spoke on rules and regulations that will be enforced in the storm shelters, after school hours, when it is under his department’s jurisdiction. No weapons, no animals other than service animals will be allowed in and the shelter at the elementary will only be open in the event of an overflow at the high school. 

--Assistant superintendent Cathy Riggins announced that schools in the district, the high school, the Freshman Academy and the middle school, have achieved status in the top 20 schools in Arkansas. Based on overall ACT Aspire Scores 2016,  Vilonia Middle School (grades 7-8) is ranked 17 in top 20 schools in Arkansas based on overall ACT Inspire(math, ELA and science combined;  number three in top five for math, ELA and science combined in the central region; number four in top five in central region based on Math ACT aspire performance; number five in top five in central region based on ELA ACT Aspire Performance; number 2 in top five (tied with four other schools for top two in central region) based on Science ACT Aspire Performance.

The Freshman Academy is number three in top five in central region based on ELA Act Aspire Performance. Also, the high school is ranked number five in top five in central region based on ELA ACT Aspire Performance.