Local Schools Asking for Millage Increase

SEPTEMBER 18, 2006 -- POSTED AT 5:15 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Several school districts in Region 8 will be asking voters Tuesday for additional tax dollars, including Jonesboro schools. They're currently at 30.0 mills and are asking for 3.5 mill increase.

"We haven't passed a millage in 20 years and we have the lowest millage in the county and a better education means more successful job opportunities in the future," says Morgan Bookout, a Jonesboro High School Senior.

The Jonesboro School District says this time around the millage increase is a necessity and if it doesn't pass Tuesday, school cuts must be made.

"We might lose our SRO's and that would be absolutely awful. I really think they're very important to our school. They offer safety and security and they really make me feel safe all the time," says Mary Catherine Ragland, another Jonesboro High School Senior.

Other things that the additional tax dollars would be used for include upgrading computer technology and science labs, along with maintenance and operations to cover the increases in fuel and energy costs. But opposition to the tax raise says the school district has enough money, they just don't seem to spend it on the right things.

"The legislators tie their hands and make them spend their money for maybe things they don't want to spend it for. They don't have an option, but me as a taxpayer I just think they've got enough money. They need to make do," says Bob Rees.

Rees owns the Magic Touch Corporation and has lived in Jonesboro all his life. He says he's tired of the school district asking for more money.

"The Jonesboro School District's budget is 9 million dollars more than the City of Jonesboro's," says Rees.

Rees blames the legislators for controlling the school's spending and putting them in a bind, depending on more tax dollars to run the school.

"Where does it stop? How much do they want to tax the people? How much can the people afford?" says Rees.

But for it or not, the voters soon will cast their decision. In Region 8, 15 different districts will ask for a millage increase Tuesday. The local schools include Blytheville, Jonesboro, Bay, Marion, Wynne, Trumann, Forrest City, Hughes, Palestine-Wheatley, Jackson County, Lawrence County, Maynard, Highland, Concord, and Cedar Ridge.