LRSD millage bid
rejected by voters
Little Rock School District voters last week rejected a proposed 18-year extension of 12.4 debt service property tax mills in a vote of 37,391 to 31,865, according to still unofficial results.
The proposed extension would not have raised annual taxes but would have required the taxes to be paid for more years.
The proposal passed in fewer than a dozen of the approximately 70 precincts in which it was on the ballot.
Those few included precincts voting at Parkway Place Baptist Church and Asbury Methodist Church in west Little Rock; First Church of the Nazarene on Mississippi; and at Calvary Baptist Church, Pulaski Heights Methodist and at one of two precincts voting at Woodlawn Baptist — all in the Heights and Hillcrest neighborhoods.
Voters also favored the measure at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist in midtown and at the Historic Arkansas Museum downtown.
The proposal to extend the already levied mills from 2033 (when they are due to expire) to 2055 was an effort by the district to capitalize on unusually low interest rates on bond issues to raise about $205 million for construction and renovation of campuses, including a new campus at the site of the vacant McClellan High.
The district’s new school board, once in place in 2021, has the option of returning the proposal or a revamped proposal to the voters.
2 district millages
fail, don’t count
The Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school districts put millage questions on their ballots Tuesday, but only did so to comply with state law. They sought no changes.
School districts are required by Article 14, Section 3, of the Arkansas Constitution to include their tax rates on the ballot annually.
If no change in a tax rate is proposed, then districts ask voters to vote on a district’s current tax rate. In that case, no matter what voters decide, the millage rate will remain at the level last approved by voters.
The majority of voters in North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special voted against the current tax rates.
In Pulaski County Special, 32,817 people voted “no” on the 40.7-mill tax rate and 24,783 voted in support.
In North Little Rock, 11,211 voted against the current 48.3-mill tax rate while 8,895 voted in support.
Although the vote tallies do not change the tax rates this year, votes on the tax rates are sometimes viewed as a gauge of public support or dissatisfaction with a school system.
NLR voters elect
J.T. Zakrzewski, 44, was elected without opposition to the North Little Rock School Board’s Zone 6 position last week.
It was a return to a seat he held in 2014 when he was defeated for reelection by Sandra Campbell. Campbell, 76, has since served for two terms but did not seek reelection this year.
Angela Person West, 46, won her bid for the North Little Rock School Board’s Zone 4 seat over Lizbeth Huggins. Huggins, 52, was appointed to the seat earlier after the resignation of a board member.
The three-year terms are unpaid.
LRSD on verge
of elected board
The Little Rock School District is on the brink — after runoff elections Dec. 1 — of operating under a locally elected school board after six years of state control.
Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key has acted in the place of a school board in the 21,000-student system, making final decisions on policies, personnel and financial matters.
“The return to local control won’t immediately reduce our workload, but it will allow for a shift in our work,” Key said last week about the transition.
“For over five years now the Arkansas Department of Education team and I have spent countless hours working to support the day-to-day operations of LRSD. Most of that day-to-day work will return to the traditional board-district relationship, but as long as LRSD remains in need of Level 5-[intensive] support, we will continue working with the district to meet the exit criteria.
“However, ” Key also said, “there will be time previously focused on LRSD that will be redirected to the other districts across the state and other important education initiatives.”
It’s second terms
for Ward, Keller
Tina Ward, 52, and Eli Keller, 43, were elected in uncontested races to second terms on the School Board for the Pulaski County Special School District.
Ward represents Zone 2 that encompasses the southeast part of the district, while Keller represents Zone 6 that encompasses part of Maumelle.
Ward and Keller were first elected in 2016 when the district’s school board was reinstated after five years of state control without a school board.
Terms in the district are for five years and are unpaid.