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OPINION | Doug Dorris stood for local students

by The Pine Bluff Commercial | June 22, 2022 at 3:23 a.m.

We imagine that all school districts wish they had a Doug Dorris. Someone who is experienced, plugged in, compassionate. A true professional who puts the safety of students first. Someone who instills trust. And someone who has a solid record of accomplishment over the course of their tenure.

Dorris is all that and more, and now he's about to retire.

But even in leaving he's sticking around because he wants to be there when the doors open on some of his bigger accomplishments.

One of the more significant items on his long list of to-do's was to get a millage passed. It's tough to get voters to approve a tax increase, and White Hall patrons were no different. A millage increase had twice before been defeated. And then Dorris convinced patrons that the increase was needed and would make for a higher quality school district, making the passage of the tax increase one of the apex moments of his professional career.

"I think our biggest selling point was when I talked to the Redfield City Council and they came out in support of the millage," Dorris told senior reporter I.C. Murrell. "I knew we had a good chance. That night was just as exciting as anything I had been through.

"They announced we had won Redfield by 100 votes. I said, 'We're going to win this thing.' You could feel the momentum, and the people of the White Hall School District came out and pushed hard for that. The board was behind that 100%."

The end result has put White Hall on the map in a very good way, producing a $25 million revenue stream that has created new facilities and upgrades across all campuses.

Dorris' 46-year-career, of course, is obviously much more than a 2.9 mill tax increase. But he has always stood tall for his students. When covid was creating such turmoil, he courageously instituted a mask mandate. That, as it did all across the country, got the anti-mask crowd motivated. But he did not cave to their demands. Instead, he used science and common sense in holding firm to his convictions, saying that he could not forgive himself if one of his students succumbed to covid when he could possibly have prevented it.

As for security, Dorris has been steadily increasing campus safety for quite some time, well before some of the more outrageous shows of gun violence around the country.

Dorris is 70 now and is stepping aside to spend more time with his family. A more well-deserved retirement we cannot imagine. He leaves behind a much-enhanced school district, one in which students and patrons can take pride and one that we know must be the envy of many other districts in the state. For your decades of service, job well done, sir!

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