October 23, 2006 - Posted at 5:49 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- Jonesboro voters said no to a 3.5 mill increase in September for the city's largest school district, marking the third time since 1999 that voters have defeated a proposed hike in property taxes. But a new source of funding has emerged and thanks to a grassroots movement, the school is receiving an unexpected financial boost.
"The Jonesboro schools right now are in the bottom 8% of funding in Arkansas and we just can't simply do that and be the progressive community we are and have the top schools that we have right now," said Arliss Dickerson.
Dickerson and his wife Sue voted yes on the millage increase in September...but when it didn't pass they were worried about the school's financial well being. So they took matters into their own hands...or checkbooks in this case. The Dickerson Family, along with several others sent in $70, or what the tax increase would have been on a $100,000 home in the district.
"It's just kind of been a little bit of a chain reaction and we hope it will maybe be a big chain reaction and hopefully they will get lots of checks in the mail. Enough to make a difference and help," said Sue Dickerson.
"We were pleasantly surprised when we began to receive those funds and just felt very encouraged by the patrons and parents who felt like they should support the district even though the millage didn't pass," said Dr. Kim Wilbanks, Jonesboro Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Elementary.
So far, the district has received about $500.
"At this point it is just going into a separate fund, I think it will probably depend on how much we receive, and of course, anytime we receive funding that is directly from parents and patrons we want to put that toward good use. We want to make sure we make a wise decision about that," said Dr. Wilbanks.
JPS doesn't know exactly where they will spend the money just yet. Funds could go to the school resource officers or to programs for the magnet school plan. But donators like the Dickerson Family say where ever the school wants to spend the money, that's fine with them.
"They know their needs better then I do. I'm perfectly content with their determining where that goes so that's not a concern of mine. I trust them completely on that," said Arliss Dickerson.