BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) -- Many in the city of Bryant are walking with a little more pep in their step today after voters approved more money yesterday for local schools. Voters approved a tax increase, allowing for new additions to school campuses.
This community is among those on the up and up in Central Arkansas. Parents said the number one thing about the city of Bryant, in their opinion, are the schools. They expect this millage increase will do more than just give their kids’ new stomping grounds, but also further boost the economy.
"I think as a whole for the community, this is a big win,” said Carlton Billingsley.
He has a 7th grade son in the Bryant School District. Billingsley is one of many parents who played a major part in helping push for this change. And thankfully, for supporters, this three year concern is about to be resolved.
"The growth of the school district got to the point where it needed new facilitates,” said Superintendent Tom Kimbrell.
Kimbrell has been anticipating this moment. There was a millage election in 2014 that failed and he joined the district shortly after that. Bryant tried again in the spring of 2015. They say quick growth led to the need for replacements of outdated buildings among several other improvements for their students. However, the 2015 attempt failed as well.
"This time we were successful. We asked for 3.6 mills to increase our millage rates from 37.2,” said Kimbrell.
To the average homeowner that means $75.00 to $100.00 more in taxes every year generating $65,000,000.
"Along with 36 million the state has in its partnership plan. Plus the 18 ½ million we've saved over the last 3 years,” said Kimbrell.
Kimbrell said there are plans for two new elementary schools, a new junior high and building replacements for the high school.
“We don't have to worry anymore, we've got a little bit of pep in our step and its shows. The whole city of Bryant is glowing,” said Katie Brooks.
Brooks has three children, one in high school and the other two in elementary school. She was also instrumental in campaigning for the millage. Parents said they are excited, and their kids are too.
"My oldest is a 7th grader, so with the construction schedule hopefully he'll get to break in the new jr. high school his 9th grade year,” said Billingsley.
“My kids were asleep last night when it got announced. The first thing we did this morning was tell them it passed. They were hoopin’ and hollering all throughout the house,” said Brooks.
Bryant is putting truth to the saying, “If you don't at first succeed, try, try again”.
"That's been said many times. The 3rd time is a charm. We hoped it would be and it was,” said Kimbrell.
Kimbrell also added that the first expansion project should begin sometime next year, the new elementary. Following that, work will begin on the high school in 2019. And things will wrap up with a second elementary school sometime between 2020 and 2021.