Last night’s Batesville School Board meet features updates on millage survey, breakdown of expenses

Article by Madeline Pyle for White River Now

On Monday, the Batesville School Board heard a progress report on the Batesville School District’s millage survey requesting input on the Secure Our Future plan. (For more coverage of the Secure Our Future plan, click here.) Of the approximate 1,100 responses, it was reported that 45 percent are in favor of the moderate plan, which would be an 11.17-millage increase and a $65 million plan over its duration.

In his update to the board, Andrew English, director of the Lyon College Institutional Research which is helping with the survey, shared the results and noted he cannot yet determine if the millage will pass. However, mail surveys have been sent out in addition to online surveys, and those results “can give a better idea” of what to expect.

“One of the reasons we do physical mail surveys is to get a true representative sampling of the voting population,” English explained.

After the district finishes collecting data, English said the data will be “cleaned up, so there is a representative sample,” and the district can start analyzing to determine which plan should go on the ballot or if a plan should go on at all.

In other board news, BSD Assistant Superintendent Drew Sandage provided an overview of the three plans being voted on in the survey. The minimum plan would have an 8.1-millage increase and cost $47.8 million, while the maximum plan would have a 15.7-millage increase and cost $85 million.

Each plan would include a new theater, classrooms, lobby, and a cafeteria for Batesville High School (BHS); parking lots and drainage control; and classrooms with a storm shelter built at West Magnet and Eagle Mountain Elementary.

Sandage took the opportunity to clarify the necessity of certain price ranges. He said each estimate met the state’s minimum requirement for school facilities.

“People have to understand, when you build something for a school, you might as well figure double,” he said. “There are codes that we have to abide by, and they run the price up exorbitantly.”

Sandage also explained why there was a need for a new theater at BHS: the current one is no longer structurally sound to use. The minimum plan would allot approximately $17 million for the theater, additional classrooms, and cafeteria.

“We have 1,500 kids all going through one cafeteria,” he said. “We have kids that start eating at 10:15 in the morning — that’s an embarrassment. We’ve got to do something. They need more cafeteria space.”

The board voted to hold a special board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the BHS cafeteria. The board will hear recommendations from stakeholders and host a millage workshop. There will also be time for public comments.

In other news, English as Second Language teacher Sandy Malone announced in the West Magnet curriculum report that of the 169 students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program (ESOL), 23 had graduated from the program, and 20 were expected to graduate next year.

Sheryl Thompson, a reading aide at West Magnet Elementary, also received the “Citizens Bank Above and Beyond Award.” (For more information on Thompson’s honor from last night, click here.)

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