Project Panthers: Building Futures
February 21, 2023
“Now is the best time to move forward.”
Cabot Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman
On February 21, 2023, the Cabot School Board voted unanimously (7-0) to adopt a resolution to place a bond issue before voters in a special election on May 9, 2023.
The proposed bond would have NO associated tax rate increase. It is important to note that voters will not see any change in their millage rate. Whether you vote for or against the bond proposal, the current millage rate of 39.5 will remain 39.5. It will not go up if you vote for it, it will not go down if you vote against it.
What voting in FAVOR will do is allow the district to restructure, or refinance, existing bonds in order to access an estimated $41 million dollars to fund various academic and activities projects.
"We need to complete several projects and upgrades that will position our district in a good place for the long-term," said Cabot Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman. "Construction costs have skyrocketed. In fact, our construction management firm has warned that prices are increasing at least 6% every year. This is the perfect opportunity to continue advancing our district without raising the millage rate of our patrons.”
The master plan includes these major improvement projects:
Sarah Owen, Cabot School Board President shared, “Students, faculty, and staff will not only benefit from the passage of this proposed bond, but the entire Cabot community. Two new centralized Pre-K Centers will open 17 existing classrooms in our growing elementary schools. A District Daycare Facility will allow for more available space at daycares across the city. Organizations that utilize our facilities, including our Fine Arts Auditorium, will benefit from these needed upgrades. Most importantly, all families will be able to enjoy safe and accessible playgrounds at each of our K-6 schools.”
Even if you don’t have school-aged children, when we invest in our schools, everyone wins. Potential new residents and businesses are attracted to the area and when local schools see improvements, all property values can rise.
A strong district benefits the whole community; a strong community benefits the district.
Election Day is Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
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This is NOT a millage increase. A bond issue is a commonly used method by districts to borrow money to pay for capital improvement projects such as renovations to existing buildings.
If voters approve, the district obtains bids and sells bonds to the purchaser who offers the lowest interest rate. Like a new home loan or a loan refinance, the district will use those funds to pay for the projects and pay back the debt over time.
Arkansas requires districts to seek approval from voters to reissue bonds even if the millage rate stays the same.
Every year, the district pays off debt from previous bonds. As loan balances decrease and property values increase, the district is able to borrow money and pay it back utilizing the revenue from the existing tax rate, much like refinancing the mortgage on your home.
If approved, the funds would be allocated for projects as shown in the graphic above. The major categories include ongoing capital replacement and renovations to keep providing needed services to our students.
No. Money generated from a bond issue can only be used for capital expenditures such as new building projects or renovations. These funds may not be used for salaries, transportation costs, supplies, or utilities.
No. Our millage rate is currently 39.5 and it will remain 39.5.
The majority of the projects would either be deferred to later years or postponed indefinitely. The critical capital improvements would still need to be addressed. To pay for these, money would have to be spent from the operating budget (the portion that pays for salaries, supplies, and instructional needs).
Bond issues allow the district to pay for costly renovations and new projects over time rather than all at once. This makes it possible for the district to devote more of its operating budget to student instruction.
These facilities will be used by every athletic program, as well as band, cheer, and dance. The Multi-Use Practice Pavilion will help our programs be more flexible with their schedules.
Currently, our district has 17 Pre-K classrooms housed in our elementary schools that are needed for K-4 programming. This will take care of our elementary facility needs for the long term. We would like to expand our program by having a facility in the north and another in the south zone. We will also be able to provide a safe room that could be used by our community after school hours.
Studies have shown that real estate values tend to be higher in communities with school districts that offer a quality educational program and up-to-date facilities.
Registered voters who reside within the Cabot School District, which encompasses much of northwest Lonoke County and includes the cities of Cabot, Austin, and Ward, ARE eligible to vote in the upcoming special election.
The amount on the ballot and the bond proceeds are expected to provide the following:
New funds for projects - $41,500,000
Funds to restructure existing debt - $41,225,000
Funds to pay estimated costs of issuing bonds - $1,990,000