Tuesday evening (9/13) at 6 pm is the public dedication/open house for the remodeled Benton High School (everyone invited). Former board member Sam Stueart penned the letter below and submitted it to the Courier for publication. The Courier declined to print it stating “that the timing makes it too political” and “it waves the Prothro flag at the wrong time”. (Of course it is just coincidence, nothing political, about the open house being on the eve of early voting for two incumbent board members.)
Please take time to read Sam’s “too political” letter. The intent is to recognize Dr. Tony Prothro’s for his significant role in the process. As another former board member, I do not believe we would be holding a dedication Tuesday night without the leadership Dr. Prothro provided for the 2008 millage election and thru the construction planning.
If you are inclined, feel free to forward this email to your contacts, more people will probably read it via email than in the Courier anyway.
Soon a new building will dedicated at Benton High School. The building makes the school virtually a new high school. Those of us who were on the School Board and worked for years want to tell you the story of its funding, planning and construction.
The school actually began with the school board members and superintendent of 2008 who not only worked hard to pass the millage campaign but also contributed to the campaign fund from their own pockets. GRATITUDE IS OWED TO THE RESIDENTS OF BENTON FOR THEIR FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THIS WONDERFUL FACILITY. Then the planning began in 2009. Seventeen meetings were held with architects in addition to the twelve regular monthly meetings. One of those special meetings lasted until 1:00 AM. Dr. Prothro initiated numerous other administrative meetings with facility personnel during this phase. Every room on the plan was examined. Plans were as detailed as which way interior doors would swing and lighting and electrical issues. The careful planning is evident as you walk through the building. We were fortunate in that builders were desperate for work considering the economy and therefore we were able to do much more than had been promised in the millage and still stay within the millage amount.
A Greenhouse was added, a kiln was installed in the art rooms, an elevator got into the plans, the entire first floor south wing was made into one large safe room that can withstand a tornado. Cameras both in the building and out can, with the press of a button, be seen at the local Police Station if a situation warrants. The entire building was put under one roof so that students and teachers do not have to travel in the rain from building to building. A large amphitheater with a smart board allows for large group presentations. The amphitheater was so planned that it can be closed off from the rest of the building thus allowing the public to use it without access to the entire building and classrooms.
THE INITIAL ESTIMATE FOR STATE PARTICIPATION IN THE PROJECTS WAS $8 MILLION. DR. PROTHRO WORKED WITH STATE OFFICIALS AND FACILITY CONSULTANTS TO PROCURE AN ADDITIONAL UNEXPECTED $5 MILLION IN FREE STATE FUNDING. Thus bringing the state money to $13,000,000. AN ADDITIONAL $350,000 was ALSO obtained to completely gut and remodel the once library and change it into a stand alone building that can be used after hours for student tutoring, meetings and professional development without unlocking the entire high school. When finished, the old library will compliment the campus and allow for even more use by the community and students after hours.
All that was done was achieved by hard work of several board members from 2007 to 2008. But no one is more responsible for what has been accomplished for the students of Benton than Dr. Tony Prothro. He is considered one of the top experts on school finance in Arkansas. In fact, he teaches the course for other superintendents to be certified. He was a guiding light throughout the whole campaign, planning and getting the grants. As former Board members we can honestly say that Benton High School would not be in the excellent condition that it is now without him. Think of that when you see the DEDICATION FOR THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL. We are concerned that the present Board has totally ignored his contribution. They may not know of it since many of them were not present for the work that was done.
If anyone deserves recognition for the new school, it is the man who did the most, Dr. Tony Prothro.
School Board President, 2009