Dover superintendent upbeat about millage chances; election set for Tuesday

By Tammy Keith Published February 6, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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DOVER — Superintendent Jerry Owens said he’s optimistic about the chances to pass a 3.5-mill property-tax increase in Tuesday’s special election to fund an addition to Dover Middle School.

“I, personally, and our board as well — we spend lots of time out talking to people one on one about this millage proposal, and the overall consensus we’re getting is yes, we need this,” he said.

A 5.5-mill property-tax increase failed in the September school election.

The sticking point in the community, Owens said, was a multipurpose athletic facility.

“In the last millage, we had an indoor football facility, and most of our folks were just against it,” Owens said.

“We talked to them, and they said, ‘Hey, if you take that field house off, we’ll vote for it.’”

So it was taken out of the plans. The cost of the project dropped from $14 million to $10.65 million, Owens said.

The state will contribute $4.6 million to the project.

“If we pass the millage, then the state will contribute $4.6 million,” Owens said. “If we don’t pass the millage, we lose that $4.6 million, and it will go to another school district.”

The revised plan consists of a 26-room addition to the lower middle school and the renovation of 10 existing rooms.

In the plan, science rooms were enlarged, he said, to meet the needs of math, science and technology. Two special-education rooms were made into one large room for students to learn life-skills activities, such as doing laundry, Owens said.

The project also includes a physical-education facility, but Owens said it is “not a competition gym.”

A separate 3,500-square-foot safe room will be constructed.

The plan includes linking the lower middle school, built in 1978, to the fine-arts building and cafeteria to prevent students from having to cross school roads.

“That’s one of the key things. We want to emphasize the safety and security and putting those kids in one building as much as possible,” he said, “not only the safety aspect, but keeping them out of the elements.”

He said when it’s raining, students often go to class wet, and that interferes with instruction.

If the millage isn’t approved by voters?

“Oh, I don’t even want to think about it; I really don’t. I’ll be devastated,” Owens said. “I think this is good for kids, and it’s an opportunity here, and I just don’t know what we’ll do [if it doesn’t pass]. There’s a need here, and I just think our people will respond to this.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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