DOVER — The Dover School District has regrouped and is again trying to get a millage increase passed to fund an addition to the middle school.
A special election seeking a 3.5-mill increase will be held Feb. 11, Dover Superintendent Jerry Owens said.
A 5.5-mill property-tax increase failed in the district’s September school election.
“Since then, we’ve talked to our voters; we’ve talked to our patrons and tried to get some input from them on what they wanted and why the millage failed,” Owens said.
The objection, he said he heard, was the multipurpose athletic facility included in the addition.
“The biggest thing is that it had an indoor facility in it they just couldn’t support, a 30-yard indoor practice facility,” he said. “They felt like that was the biggest reason the millage failed.”
Owens said the plans were redrawn to take out the practice facility. The cost of the project went from $13 million to about $10.7 million.
“They felt like it was too much, and I support that,” Owens said.
The district’s millage is 40.3 and would increase to 43.8 mills. On a $100,000 home, the increase would mean an extra $70 a year in property taxes.
The plan is to add 27 classrooms, instead of 28, to the lower middle school and to renovate 10 existing ones.
“We’ve expanded some of the rooms, making bigger science rooms,” Owens said. “We’re looking to really make this facility meet the needs of math, science and technology.
“When you talk to our business community, they say — and the big buzz is — we need more science folks, so we’re trying to make sure we can excite some students in math, science and technology.
“We’re educating kids today, and we don’t know what the future is. It’s a whole new world.”
Owens said the plan includes a PE facility as part of the addition, but he stressed it is “not a competition gym.”
“We have to meet PE standards, and middle school students are required to have physical education during the day,” he said.
The plan still calls for connecting the lower middle school, built in 1978, to the fine-arts building and cafeteria to prevent students from having to cross school roads, Owens said.
“Students can go from PE to classrooms to the cafeteria and fine arts without ever getting out of the building. That’s a big safety factor there,” he said.
Also, “there’s a safe room, which is really, really, really cool,” he said.
Owens said he has gotten good feedback from patrons who voted against the first proposal.
One man stopped him at church, and said, “Hey, we need to move forward on this. You took the field house out, and we need this,” Owens said.
“We’ve got a great community,” he said. “We’re just trying to get this done to meet the needs of the community and the students.”
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.