School elections in Faulkner County are notoriously not well attended. This year, beside the usual board seats vacated, the increased millage of 1.9 mills was up for a vote.
On FOX news, Glenn Beck’s program, it was mentioned that a small town in Arkansas, with a populace of 50,000, was voting on a 40 million dollar high school campus renovations. The plan, put forth by the Board of Education, was to include a new high school, a renovated Conway High School-West campus and a new elementary school on the south side of Conway. Beck questioned the price tag on his program.
The millage increase was cited, according to the local Log Cabin Democrat newspaper, to be about $57 yearly on a $150,000 home. The rate, if approved, would be 38.1 mills, an increase of 4 mills.
The reason for the large price tag on the plan was that the present high school, according to Greg Murry, superintendent of Conway schools, “was the facilities were dated and not what Conway’s students deserve.”
The sad part of this election was that only 4,278 people voted in this election. The results were 2988 in favor and 1290 against. With a population of over 50,000 this was not a good turn out for an important issue.
The town and county have a large retired community living within its boundaries. Those who voted against voiced their opposition to any millage increase. One retiree asked how many years must they pay for schools in the area. It was a very unpopular vote, but the turn out did not show it to be.
I voted early. The early voting was in a convenient location in downtown Conway, easily accessible by foot traffic and ample parking. There was no line when I voted, and according to the election official, Sue Patrom, the turn out was good, by other school election standards.
Melinda Reynolds, Faulkner County Clerk, remarked that the number of early voters was “especially good for a school election.”
This meant that the three men trying to secure the Conway School District’s open seat were receiving votes, also. The election for this seat resulted in a runoff by Ron Hill and Andre D. Acklin. The run off will be held on October 12 for these two men.
People on the street opposed the millage increase, however, they did not show up to voice their opinion by a vote. The lackadaisal attitude of voters makes it hard to get them to vote in school elections in Conway. Even though this election hurt the homeowner’s pocket, they did not show up to vote either aye or nay.
This election will assist the school to keep up with the progress needed for the city and county. The high school has been growing for years. The two large Junior High school funnel into one Conway East high school. These students attend Conway High West when they are Juniors and Seniors. All of the nine elementary school students are housed in the two Junior High schools. There is one middle school for the 5th and 6th graders in the district. This formula of grade progression makes the high school a very crowded one. The 38.1 mill increase will provide the community with the added space that is needed for the students. It will enable the school to keep up with the technical advancement needed in schools today.
References: Log Cabin Democrat articles by Courtney Spradlin
Glenn Beck FOX news show
Melinda Reynolds, Faulkner County County Clerk
Greg Murry, Superintendent of Conway Schools
Sue Patron, Conway Election Official