G.C.T.'s Battle Plan

PARAGOULD, AR -- What is it going to take to pass a tax so Greene County Tech can have a much needed new high school? That's what Greene County Tech school patrons are asking at public forums. Monday night was the first of 3 meetings and K8 News was there.

The state says they'll pay for over half of the cost of a new high school, 53 percent. But that offer only stands if the people of Greene County Tech pull out their own pocketbooks.

Greene County Tech High School, Home of the Golden Eagles and maybe home to a new school, that is if the community wants to raise taxes to pay for their part.

"The kids that are going to be going through this high school are going to be the new leaders of Paragould. It's going to give them an opportunity to go to college and be a step ahead with all the new technology and a state of the art high school," says Kirk Cupp, a graduate and patron of the G.C.T. district.

Cupp graduated from G.C.T. in 2001 and now works in the community. He left school 6 years ago and the school continues to grow.

"Greene County is the fastest growing county in the state of Arkansas and the state says we're going to be pushing 4700 kids in ten years," says Gene Weeks, G.C.T. High School Principal.

And Principal Weeks says the state is going to give them money to help pay for that growth, something the school is calling a 'once in a lifetime opportunity.'

"With anything I feel like there is opposition but I feel like it is overwhelming that there are a lot of people for building a new high school and for education for kids," says Cupp.

These public forums will help the school measure just how much support is there before the September millage vote and also find out what patrons of the school district feel is important to have in a new high school.

"We'll have instant feedback from these parents tonight to say do you support a certain millage? Yes or no and if so, how high of a millage would you support?" says Principal Weeks.

By having these meetings now, it gives the people of Greene County Tech a chance to determine their own future.

"If we don't take advantage of it now, the state could come back 2 to 3 years from now and require us to build this high school on our own and then instead of raising the millage increase 4 to 5 mills, we're looking at raising 10 mills then we're looking at double the tax increase," says Cupp.

"We've got to have their support. The school is only as good as the parents and the patrons. The schools that are traditionally strong have that support," adds Principal Weeks.

Two other public forums will be held this week including Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Western Greene County Water Office in Walcott. Also, on Thursday at 6:30 at the Teleflora Training Room in Paragould.