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Renovations being made for the future generations of Pine Bluff

This fall, the city of Pine Bluff has big plans to fix their schools, in hopes that students and teachers will start to regain their pride.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — If you didn't know it yet, you know it by now. For the past year, Pine Bluff has been in a revitalization period. Between efforts like Go Forward and the city's focus on bringing the downtown back to life, tables are turning. 

Now, change is being made for the future generations. 

To the naked eye, the hallways and ceilings that make up Jack Robey Middle School are in need of some TLC.

"It's obvious to everybody who is looking at the walls, at the ceilings, and the floor," Teresa Moka, Jack Robey Middle School Principal, said. 

The last time the Pine Bluff School District built a new facility was back in the early 2000's.

"It's 2019. The time has come," Wil Jenkins, a community member, said. 

Pair the calendar year with the city as a whole on the up and up, this fall, district officials and community members started drafting up two separate plans.

"We have the maintenance plan, district-wide maintenance plan, and then also the facilities master plan," Jeremy Owoh, Pine Bluff Superintendent, said. 

He said the district-wide maintenance plan will consist of renovations at all six schools. 

"Such as carpeting, new carpet, painting, new grid-work, tile-work," Owoh said. 

The facility's master plan will take care of the bigger ticket items, like brand new buildings. 

Owoh and Jenkins are two of the 13 that make up the committee who are drawing up this idea. The committee is a collective group of people made up of educators, business owners, church leaders, and even students. 

"It takes a village and we have a welcome opportunity for us to become that village," Jenkins said. 

Owoh said these significant makeovers mean applying for partnership with the state. 

"We have the potential of the state paying upwards of 65% to 70% of the cost for the major renovations," he said. 

Owoh said the smaller maintenance plan is money the district already has in its pockets. 

"We have a little over two-million sitting in that fund, so we want to make sure that we utilize those funds for the reasons that the citizens voted on -- to renovate our schools," he said. 

Moka said patching up holes like the ones in the ceilings at Jack Robey Middle School won't just benefit the looks of the building, but will also positively impact the students' minds and their overall well-being.

"It obviously has an impact on morale and climate and the pride that kids have about their school," she said. 

Moka is in her third year as principal at Jack Robey Middle School. She said the renovations are a long time coming. 

"It has an impact on how you feel and so, when your building looks good, you look good and you feel good," she said. 

Jenkins said fixing up where students come to learn will also be a pivotal part in the domino effect of what's to come for Pine Bluff.

"Education is key to us keeping people here, keeping our students in these schools, and helping out with our population and its growth," he said. 

In a matter of time, students at Jack Robey Middle School will stand taller while wearing their red and white. 

The district-wide maintenance plan will take place over the next three years with renovations beginning now at every school.

It will take longer for the facility's master plan to be put into place as the district will submit its application to the state in February. 

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