Public meeting set for Tuesday on GF School district millage issue

Monday, June 2, 2008

GREEN FOREST -- With less than two weeks to go before voters decide whether to increase the school district's millage, the school board has arranged a public meeting to answer questions about the issues.

The public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3, in the cafeteria.

The special election will be held Tuesday, June 10, and voters will approve or reject an additional 3.82 mills, to be used to build additional classrooms to meet state standards for academic space.

Interim Superintendent Bob Evans was hired after the sudden retirement of previous superintendent Larry Bennett. His service will end at the end of June, and new Superintendent Jeff Williams will take over on July 1. Williams has been serving as superintendent at Rose Bud.

Evans had suggested scheduling this election in June, so the new superintendent could start without having an election hanging over the office.

If voters reject the additional millage, the state Department of Education may take further steps to bring the district into compliance. Those steps could include dissolving the school board, curtailing athletics and other non-essential programs, or even consolidating with another district.

Doug Eaton, director of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation, will attend the public meeting. He was also present at a public meeting Dec. 6, to help explain the state's role in setting standards for local districts.

At the May 19 meeting of the school board, board member John Bailey stressed the importance of reminding voters that this request is about half the amount turned down by voters in September. "This is for classroom space only, and no frills," he said. Bailey said the project under consideration would provide some room for growth, "so we are not faced with this again soon." He also advocated keeping the message as clear as possible, to help eliminate rumors that might otherwise arise.

Students have been distributing handouts with information about the millage increase of 3.82 mills. Students will also help staff a booth at Agri Days on June 6-7, leading up to the election on Tuesday, June 10.

Early voting begins Tuesday, June 3, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the courthouse in Berryville. On June 10, voters will cast their ballots at the Methodist Church in Green Forest.

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