As citizens cast votes, debate continues over millage extension for Little Rock School District

LRSD millage debate continues on eve of vote

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Little Rock citizens will cast their vote Tuesday on whether to extend a millage tax for another 14 years.

The district said the millions of dollars generated by the millage in 2017 alone would go towards building a new high school and allow improvements to other buildings. Community activist and former city school board member Jim Ross is strongly against the tax millage.

"Instead of investing in buildings we ought to be investing in our students and our teachers,” Ross said.

He's concerned the funds won't target students and their academic needs. The millage tax is projected to generate $40 million in revenues in 2017. After paying down the necessary bond debt, it leaves roughly $26 million in surplus.

"We don't know what they want to do with the money,” Ross said, “but we know that they have a 30-year history of ignoring southwest Little Rock."

Superintendent for the Little Rock District Michael Poore said the millage is critical to an already very tight school budget.

"There's probably over $350 million worth of needs, this just starts to address the basics of those needs,” Poore said. "You'd have to make further reductions in the budget, if you look at this, we've already made a reduction of $41 million over the last three years."

The district said if the current millage is extended for another 14 years that would help them create a new $160 million budget. A budget that would help repair things like roofing, air conditioning as well as building a new school.

On the eve of the school vote, dozens gathered at a downtown Little Rock park. Marion Humphrey said after losing the school board just two years ago, he doesn't feel the district has addressed the issues at six schools deemed academically distressed.

"There is no plan for doing anything about those six schools that has been presented to the public after two years,” Humphrey said. “That suggests to me that the people who took over the school district are not concerned about these students."

No matter how you feel about the millage, the key thing is to get out and vote, polls open at 7:30 Tuesday morning.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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