Parents urge return to local control as early voting opens for LRSD millage extension

Tensions rise as millage early voting begins for LRSD

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Early voting has begun in Little Rock for an extension of the current millage for the Little Rock School District. If approved, the plan is to build a new high school in southwest Little Rock as well as fixes to other schools.

While some Little Rock schools need repairs, many parents in the city want control of their schools. Those against the millage extension don't want to write a check to LRSD without local control being returned to the district.

"We should have some input. Right now we have no input," said Heather Collins.

Collins is just one of several parents who oppose the millage extension. If passed, the levy of 12.4 would be extending 14 years, moving the end of the tax rate from 2033 to 2047.

"Those are taxes my children, who are in middle school and elementary school, they're going to be paying that," Collins said.

LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore said nothing about the tax rate will change and while he supports the extension, he is not the one who proposed it. It was originally proposed by the old school board before it was disassembled.

"The board identified these needs and now we are at a place where we are trying to execute, in terms of moving forward on them," Poore said. "I think that the governance piece is critical, but right now what is is right now we can do to make our district better."

But parent Toney Orr said the district needs to be return to the citizens of Little Rock rather than being run by the state.

"Give us our schools back. Let us govern ourselves," Orr said.

Franklin Elementary is one of four schools set to close at the end of the summer to help LRSD save some money. Despite the pleas of dozens of parents, the loss of the schools has left a bad taste in many of the parents' mouths. Many have argued the loss of Franklin would further cripple the already troubled 12th Street Corridor.

Former LRSD Superintendent, Dr. Morris Holmes thinks it's not the right time to ask tax payers to fork out their money.

"To remove Franklin? For what? To save what money? You only cut one principal," Holmes said, questioning the closure of Franklin. "Then you're going to have to put in an assistant principal? No, this is untimely."

Poore asserted the money will be used to improve facilities and build the new high school. The superintendent pointed to recent storms and the trouble it has caused some of the schools in the district.

"You should see what happened to some of our buildings because of poor roofs, windows, in terms of water coming in to classrooms and us having to spend a lot of money to try to get all that cleaned up," he said.

But, as early voting begins, parents are still skeptical of the millage extension.

"There's no guarantee there's going to be a new school built," Orr argued, "there's no guarantee that the money is going to be allocated the way it is supposed to be."

On the first day of early voting, a total of 483 early votes were cast. For a list of early and regular voting locations, click here.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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