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Master facility plan discussed at Nashville School Board

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By John R. Schirmer
News-Leader staff

Members of the Nashville School Board conducted a workshop May 2 to review the district’s master facility plan and discuss other topics.

The top priority is “to make sure the primary school roof is replaced,” according to Superintendent Doug Graham. Architect Craig Boone and representatives of Seamless Solutions were on campus last week to evaluate the roof. Graham will report their findings at the board’s regular meeting May 17.

Future construction projects could include a new agri building at Nashville High School, Graham said. “The board was challenged with making a decision. The cost would be $800,000 to $1 million.”

If the district opts to pay for the project through local funds, “We can get started as soon as we draw up plans,” Graham said. “If we go through the Arkansas Facilities Division, it’s a three-year project with construction starting in 2020. Facilities would pay about $400,000. The question is would we rather pay the $400,000 ourselves and start on our own time or save it” and build in three years.

The project will be discussed at later board meetings.

In addition to the agri building, “It’s time to upgrade Wilson Park,” Graham said. “The board is favorable on all three projects. We’ll wait on the roof report. Agri is next, then Wilson. We need to get the roof and ag building first.”

Possible improvements at Wilson Park include new dugouts, a net fence, seating and roof. The project would cost about $140,000, Graham said.

Board members suggested another step, including new restrooms, concession stands and “maybe some chairback seats and aluminum bleachers. That pushes it to $300,000 to

$400,000 then,” Graham said. “We wouldn’t have to do everything at once.”

“We’re talking about keeping the nostalgia of the old park versus starting over,” according to Graham. Wilson Park opened around 1950.

The state Legislature recently passed a bill allowing schools to have no more than 20 percent of their revenue in an operating fund. “We can kick it into a building fund. We’ll have to go from a 25 percent operating balance to 20 percent operating balance,” Graham said.

The total to be moved would be about $800,000, possibly enough to cover much of the agri building plan.

Board members will continue to discuss the improvement project.

Following the facilities discussion, board members talked about hiring a district-wide curriculum coordinator or having academic coaches for math and literacy.

The district has received an increase in National School Lunch Act funds, Graham said. “Three years ago, we said that when funds allow, we’d hire a district-wide curriculum person. With [literacy coach] Vickie Beene and [math coach] Bernie Hellums retiring, it’s a good time. We’ll research this further. It’s up for debate to see which way to go. We’re dependent on NSLA to pay the salaries. If NSLA is out, the coordinator is out.”

For the current academic year, NSLA funds doubled, increasing from $700,000 to $1.4 million, Graham said. “The funds are earmarked for academic coaches or low-achieving students. If we stay at that funding level, it’s not a question.”