Corning School District to ask voters for funds to help finance new high school

An empty classroom is shown in this 2015 file photo. (The Sentinel-Record/Mara Kuhn)
An empty classroom is shown in this 2015 file photo. (The Sentinel-Record/Mara Kuhn)

Community meetings have been scheduled beginning Thursday to share information with voters about a proposed school property tax increase that would help pay for construction of a new high school in the Corning School District.

The meetings are set for:

— Thursday, Corning High School Cafeteria, Clay County.

— Feb 20, Reyno Community Center, Reyno, Randolph County.

— Feb 26, Corning High School Cafeteria, Clay County.

— Feb 29, Knobel Community Center, Clay County.

"The current buildings at the high school were built in 1967 and are in need of replacement," said Superintendent Jennifer Woolard in an email Tuesday. "We are to the point now where it is more expensive to repair than to replace."

On the March 5 ballot, the district will ask voters for a 5-mill increase to help provide funds for constructing and equipping the new high school. The state would contribute funding, too.

Currently, the millage rate for the Corning district -- which includes portions of Clay and Randolph counties in Northeast Arkansas -- is 31.5. Voters living within the parts of the two-county school district will see the tax proposal on their ballots.

"Increasing the mills to 36.5 will pay for the project and keeps us well under the state average of 38.9 mills," she said.

To acquire some of the necessary funding, the district applied for Academic Facility Partnership money to build the new high school.

In September 2023, the state awarded the district approximately $12.7 million to help pay for the new facilities.

Once the district builds a new high school, the old facilities will have to be demolished as required when school systems accept state money to replace old buildings.

"If voters approve the millage increase request, the project must be completed by November 2027," the superintendent said.

The Corning district, which is in a mostly agricultural community, has 794 students -- 225 in ninth through 12th grade.

A group of civic leaders have established a campaign organization called Safer Schools, Stronger Community to help promote the school tax request.

The early-voting period begins Feb. 20.

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