Here’s the latest flyer from the group trying to win voter approval May 9 of adding 14 years – a minimum of $600 million in new taxing authority — to property tax bills so the Little Rock School District can sell bonds to pay for some construction (and not incidentally continue profiting from a hidden charge of what’s now $26 million a year and growing for operations.)
This flyer is a new low. It is a blood insult to a parent who’s supported every school tax in this city for 44 years. Who put two kids through Little Rock schools. Who’s been stonewalled at every request to speak with the man who controls the school district, Education Commissioner Johnny Key. Who’s been denied a firm commitment or any sign of flexibility about a return of local control to the school district by the State Board of Education. Who’s been waiting more than two weeks for compliance with the state open records law on the underwriting, financial counsel and legal fees that will be reaped on this bond issue. Who’d like to know what contractors are in line to swoop in for some paydays with this bond issue. Who’d like to see a firm promise that fixed-up buildings won’t someday wind up in the hands of private companies that operate charter schools. Who can’t get an answer of how it makes sense to borrow money for a school district facing a continuing decline in enrollment and a budget crisis thanks to charter schools that Johnny Key supports, not to mention threats from his political party’s support of sending tax money to home schoolers and voucher programs.
There are ways to pay for construction and operations other than continuing payment of 14 years of debt on a whopping 12.4 mills in taxes. There are ways those in charge could instill confidence that the poor part of town won’t continue to get the hind end of closure decisions. Openness, honesty and a moratorium on charter school expansion come to mind as worthwhile tactics.
But this? Suggesting there’s a binary choice in the May 9 school election? Black/white? Good/evil? It’s a towering insult to the people of good will who are struggling to balance a long commitment to schools with a deserved lack of trust in current leadership. This, uncommitted voter, tells you plenty about the low regard for your intelligence.
Return to sender at 1000 Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72201.
And hang on for some more information coming here about why a decision to load more debt on the district is actually BAD for children, not good for them.