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"Some are saying it's a pretty good rule of thumb that a proposal is a dud if both the conservative, pro-charter editorials of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the liberal blog posts of the Arkansas Times oppose this proposal--basically on the same core argument though from diametric positions. That core argument is that we can't know yet what we're getting for the money."

--John Brummett,

earlier this month

Most folks aren't going to buy an expensive new car before they see it. Or before they know the model. Or before they know the color or gas mileage or style or which company built it. Why would they?

That might be the simple way to look at this tax proposal by the Little Rock school system. And if they're right about saving money with these current and extremely low interest rates, perhaps even a simplistic way. But we get the feeling that most taxpayers would like to know who will spend their money, before We the People give . . . who? . . . even more of it.

The voters will elect a new school board for Little Rock's school district in a few weeks. A completely new board. The first board in years. Because the state took control of the failing system, and is just now giving (most of) it back. Instead of Little Rock's schools being run from a state office, they will soon be run from school board headquarters. But with so many good, competitive candidates in the various races--there are nine zones--nobody can be sure what the school board will look like.

Still, the district--through its temporary minders at the state level--is asking for a tax extension. Before the school board election.

Mike Poore and Johnny Key have made their points. The best might have come from Cynthia Howell's story on Aug. 26: "Superintendent Mike Poore said Tuesday that extending the tax levy at this time of 'an extremely favorable bond market' gives the district the chance to maintain its current debt payment while reaping a larger amount of money to go toward building projects. 'Bottom line, that's why we are doing this,' Poore said. 'We would be making a mistake as a school district if we didn't allow our community to move forward in this significant fashion.'"

The district's 12.4-mill property tax would be extended from 2033 to 2051, raising $329 million in total money (including, the district tells us, the refinancing of previous bonds), with something close to $204 million in new money.

Still, the people can't know what they're getting, because the people don't know who'll be representing them--that is, who will be spending the money.

No matter what the board looks like come January, there will be a time in which good feelings and good will glow and luminate, as with most New Beginnings. Let's get past that, and see what a new school board's priorities will be once in somber action. And decide then whether to grant the district a not-so-modest raise.

In other words, let's talk about this next year.


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