Harmony Grove School District millage increase put to a vote as students struggle for space

HASKELL, Ark. — Fingers are crossed at Harmony Grove School District while more space to learn is in the hands of voters.

“It’s something that’s desperate, it needs to be changed, and I hope the community can realize that,” said James McCormick, a senior at Harmony Grove High School.

McCormick has noticed as his hometown grows, so is his school. And here lately, space is crammed.

“I know a lot of kids, they walk out at lunch, sit in the halls, and eat in their laps because there is just not enough room,” said McCormick.

“We were blessed to get facility funding and partnership money from the state to get a new cafeteria that’s being built now,” said Heath Bennett, superintendent.

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Bennett said that’s one problem solved, but the school’s classrooms are also bursting at the seams.

That’s where a proposed millage increase, if passed, would help build a new high school facility adding additional classrooms, science labs, and general learning space.

The district’s millage proposal failed in September by 16 votes, sending the school board back the drawing board.

“It’s huge in the fact we are trying to figure out where to put our students at right now,” said Bennett.

In September the district went for 3.8 mills, now they are looking to get 2.8 mills saving taxpayers some money but still build the same structure.

“Because of lower interest rates and combining our debt it was able to lower what we are going to our patrons with this time,” said Bennett.  

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Along with the new proposed millage increase comes further security measures in the schools.

“We will be adding safety doors if the millage does pass,” said Bennett.
For students like McCormick, he believes the overall investment comes down to academic success.

“The ability to be in a bigger nicer facility will challenge kids to step up,” said McCormick. “There’s rewards that come with excelling academically.”

Early voting started Tuesday at the Benton Voting Center, and that goes through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

January 14th is voting day. Residents can vote for or against the millage increase at the fire department from 7:30 am to 7:30 p.m.