In hopes of adding classrooms and other areas to Harmony Grove High School, school officials are requesting a millage increase of 3.8 mills.
Superintendent Heath Bennett along with Scott Beardsley of First Security Finance discussed the proposed increase during a public meeting Thursday.
The proposed increase will be the only item on the ballot on Sept. 10, Beardsley explained. Early voting will begin on Sept. 3.
If approved, the district's rate will be set at 45.60 mills and the millage increase is scheduled to sunset in 30 years.
The district currently has $2.5 million it received from the state for the high school addition. The money generated from the millage will offset the approximately $9.5 to $10 million needed for the construction, Bennett said.
If the millage is not approved this year, the district could try again in 2020, but if in both years the millage increase fails, the district would have to return the state funding.
"If the millage passes, it's fantastic. We're going to keep going," Bennett said. "If the millage doesn't pass, the sun is going to come up next day, but at some point somebody else's children and grandchildren are going to get that $2.56 million. That's the way it works… if you don't pass it, it goes to another district."
The addition will include a band and choir hall, physics and chemistry labs, a library and nine new classrooms as well as rooms for speech therapy, occupation and physical therapy. The space will also feature resource rooms, a counselor's office, principal's office and nurses station. There are also plans to resolve flooding issues, Bennett said.
If the increase is approved, the addition is expected to open in August 2022.
Harmony Grove is the smallest land school district in the state, Bennett said.
"If you go five minutes in any direction, you're out of our school district," he explained. "We're very blessed in the fact that over the last 10 years the growth the district has seen … we have no space whatsoever."
The proposed addition is expected to fit 300 more students. The district currently has an enrollment of 1,230 students. Based on current trends, this space should accommodate growth for the next 10 years, he said.
"It will be something nice and really special for the district," he said.
While addressing the crowd, Bennett mentioned a question he received about the district purchasing land elsewhere. He explain that land in Saline County is expensive and hard to find.
"Harmony Grove has a family-type atmosphere all the way through…we're going to do everything we can to keep them (schools in the district) together," Bennett said. "We always want to keep the small-school feel and the family feel and the environment in the community."
Information was provided to voters at the meeting outlining specific numbers based on home values. For homes valued at $100,000, the owners' property taxes would increase by $76 per year or $6.33 a month. For a home valued at $150,000, the millage change would increase the owner's taxes by $114 a year or $9.50 a month.
More of this information is available on the district's website at harmonygrovesd.org or on the Harmony Grove High School Facebook page.