Jonesboro Public Schools To See 3.5 Mill Increase on September Ballot

JULY 25, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:15 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- It's something Jonesboro Public School's hasn't seen happen for 18 years now. That something is a millage increase for their school system. They tried in last year's elections to pass an increase, but it failed. This time school board members say the school district is in jeopardy if an increase isn't passed. A special school board meeting was called Tuesday night to lay out the numbers.

To at least meet their budget for the 2007-2008 school year, the Jonesboro Public Schools had to approve a minimum increase of 3.5 mills. The increase passed unanimously with the board members Tuesday night, but what about in September when this hits the ballots? Jonesboro School Board Director Keith Hendrix says this time around if it doesn't pass, Jonesboro Schools will suffer as a result.

"If we don't get the millage passed, we're going to lose the security in our schools because we don't have the money to pay them anymore, we're not going to have enough gas to put in our buses. It's one of those deals where we're going to have to pinch pennies just to keep our school afloat," says Keith Hendrix, a member of Jonesboro School Board.

The average school district mill rate is 35.24 mills, but Jonesboro school's rate is only 30.

"Jonesboro is a 30 mill school district. 25 mills automatically goes to Little Rock to divide out among all schools. The other 5 is our debt service. We're required to have debt service," says Hendrix.

If the 3.5 millage increase passes in September, the money generated from the tax will go directly to the Jonesboro Public School System and not to the state. The proposal divides out the 3.5 mills to 3 different areas. 1.3 mills would go to safety and security. 1.2 mills to science and technology and the remaining 1 mill to maintenance and operation.

Hendrix says this time around, the board can only hope the taxpayers understand. He says their vote is a deciding factor for the future Jonesboro Public School's quality of education.

"If it's not for the property tax owners, we don't have any more money or source of income and that's a state legislator deal, so we're stuck. So, they just have to understand, we're just trying to provide the basics we can for kids, and that's our job," says Hendrix.

Currently, Jonesboro Public Schools property tax rate is the lowest of eight school districts within Craighead County.