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Yet another campaign

This one for a Jacksonville school district

This article was published August 6, 2014 at 4:12 a.m.

So it begins. Again. But maybe this campaign won't be like all the others going on all around like so many mud-fights. Because it's hard to imagine this campaign seeing much if any mudslinging. It'll be about education and how to improve it, a subject that should always interest Arkansas. For if there are three top concerns in American politics, they ought to be education, education and education. In that order.

Folks in Jacksonville, Ark., and environs want their own school district. They want to break away from Pulaski County's, and they're taking the idea to a vote of the people next month. And it's a good idea.

Yes, granted, it generally hasn't been a good idea to create new school districts in a state that already has too many of them. Merging many of the school districts that already exist makes more sense--most of the time. But there's a difference between (1) setting up another inefficient school district out in the boonies with a total of 250 kids divided among four schools, and (2) this potential new district in northern Pulaski County that would serve more than four thousand students.

Most people in and around Jacksonville seem ready to break away from the state-run, financially strapped bigger district. And who can blame them? A telephone poll said 80 percent of the people in and around Jacksonville wanted their own school district. It's called local control--and this idea would encourage local responsibility.

There's no organized opposition to a separate Jacksonville school district, not yet. And even the folks who run Pulaski County's school district have offered reasons why it would be a good idea to let folks in Jacksonville organize a district of their own.

If voters do approve of this proposal, and Jacksonville does form its own school district, the new school district would probably be eligible for millions of dollars in state money to repair and maintain its schools.

Even the superintendent of Pulaski County's schools, Jerry Guess, has said the state considers his district entirely too rich in property-tax dollars, which is why some state money isn't available to his district. That's because of the way the state's equalization formula for school districts works. So organizing a separate Jacksonville school district wouldn't be just a democratic move, giving local folks more say in local education, but an economical one, too, from both school districts' perspectives. There's good reason, and more than one of them, why no organized opposition to the idea has yet cropped up.

Let's leave it to the people of Jacksonville to decide the future of their own schools come September 16th. Something tells us that next year folks in northeastern Pulaski County are going to have to take one more vote. To elect their own school board.

Editorial on 08/06/2014

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