The similarities between the upcoming February 8th special millage election and the 2007 attempt to increase the millage rate are striking. In 2007, the request was for 5.55 mills which was a 15.5% increase over the then-existing millage rate of 30.25 and was to be used to build a $14 million high school.
The current request is for 5 mills (a 14.4% increase) which will be collected over 30 years and which if passed will be used to fund $40 million in campus improvements.
Let’s address some of the very basic misdirections being used in the attempt to sell this millage increase.
- Fountain Lake has the lowest millage rate of all districts in the area! Although true, it is a misdirection because it ignores the following facts:
- Fountain Lake’s locally collected tax revenues place it 5th in the state of Arkansas at slightly over $10,054 per student (in 2020-2021). What this means is the district does not qualify to receive state “foundation funding” which all other local districts receive, varying from $2,563/student at HSSD to $5,329/per student at CMS. Fountain Lake receives “$0” such funds.
- Local tax revenues constitute 90% of the total income of FL with the other local area districts such revenues being under 65% of their total revenues.
- Although not a misdirection, the election campaign literature ignores the impending increase in local tax revenues that will result from the state mandated “property reappraisal process” which is underway in both counties that support Fountain Lake. Hard numbers for the reappraisals are not yet available but based on the substantial increases in home selling prices the last 2 years, there is little doubt increased reappraisals will be at least 10% thus increasing the current $10,054 to over $11,000 per student.
- Another factor which is ignored by the election hype is the fact that some of the need for more revenue is self-inflicted by the Superintendent’s electing to accept so many “school choice” students. He has virtually doubled the number of choice student during his tenure. Why is this important? The only revenue which is received by the district to support choice students is “categorical funds” which amount to approximately 9.5% of total revenues, hence accepting choice students’ means spreading the local tax revenues over a larger population. Adding such students must be one of the key drivers for more class room space. One of the legitimate reasons for rejecting choice applicants is lack of space.
Please consider the above when deciding whether to support the 5 mill increase.
P.S. Had the district been reasonable by requesting 1-2 mills, I would have supported their request but 5 mills to too big a bite for me.
2020-2021 Revenues for Local School Districts2020-2021 Revenues for local school districts 1
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By Bob McCleskey, member of Fountain Lake Board of Education 2007-2015
Article published January 11. 2022
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01/11/2022 — 2:09 pm
Just another money grab by another emboldened bureaucracy.
01/11/2022 — 4:35 pm
Coming from a person who was a FLSD Board Member from 2007-2015 this published information should have heads snap back. If it doesn’t get your attention…perhaps you simply do NOT WANT to take your head out of the sand.
FLSD Supt. Dr. Murphy wants our money to build his fields of dreams!
Vote NO on February 8th!
Email questions to: NoFLSDmillageincrease@mail.com
01/26/2022 — 1:21 am
What makes “my head snap back” is this article being about FLSD Millage Campaign and “IT’S misdirections”, but the article is full of true misdirections to fit the anti-millage narrative.
There have been several comments further explaining the issues with points 2 & 3 of the article (keep reading below).
However I want to point out, that not only did this former FL board member imply that FLSD can just stop taking all school choice kids to stop the “self infliction” (which isn’t accurate). The amount of school choice kids he mentions “virtually doubling during his tenure” is a significant exaggeration. According to Mrs. McDonalds “Spin This” numbers, the tenure increase of school choice kids is 29% (63 to 81). If you want to skew the numbers a bit and use only the highest year under Dr. Murphy, you still only get 59% increase (63 to 100). A “skewed”59% gain is still 41% from “virtually doubling”. Definitely an exaggeration if not a true misdirection. What else is never considered in this school choice argument, is there are students who “choice” out of FLSD. Those families pay taxes to FLSD but send their kids to other schools. What are the net gains of school choice? I don’t know what the net gain/loss is but school choice is a 2 way street.
01/12/2022 — 7:11 pm
#2 – Again, if assessments rise 10%, it does NOT mean FLSD revenue rises 10% due to the many properties having frozen assessments (over 65 years old or disability. ) It is very disturbing a former school board member doesn’t understand this.
01/13/2022 — 10:43 pm
#3 — Arkansas is a school choice state. There were a total of 15,152 students exercising school choice to traditional public schools in 2018-19, according to the Education Department’s website. This is not a new thing and not unique to Fountain Lake School District. Arkansas law permits families to apply for and receive school transfers for their children — subject to SOME restrictions. One of these restrictions is that transfers can be denied, IF the enrollment rate in the desired district, grade or program is at 90% or more of its student capacity, or if additional staff members must be hired to serve transfer students. I believe this is the point that Mr. McCleskey was trying to make about Fountain Lake’s needing more classroom space being “self-inflicted”.
However, this “self-infliction” comment may not be entirely true. Fountain Lake’s ability to deny a transfer student is dependent on the transfer student’s grade level already being at 90% student capacity at Fountain Lake. If that grade level is NOT at 90% capacity, Fountain Lake MUST accept that transfer based on school choice laws. So what happens if Fountain Lake must take school choice kids until they get to 90% capacity, and then have kids physically move into the district? That would potentially cause high or full capacity, and the need of more classrooms would not be “self-inflicted.” I just wanted to point out that it is not as simple as Fountain Lake School saying that they deny all school choice transfers, they must follow the state’s current school choice laws.
It is also important to note that some of these school choice students coming to Fountain Lake are school employee’s children, or siblings of students already attending Fountain Lake. I think it can be agreed on that it would be sensible to accept these types of transfers.
01/14/2022 — 7:30 pm
School choice has nothing to do with the fact that the FL student population now is less than it was seven years ago. If FL is not at 90%, then where is the need? This vote is asking voters to pay for new baseball fields for FL.
Jessieville doesn’t have on site baseball fields either, both school districts already own the baseball fields at the Boys and Girls club and play well together. Shall we vote to abandon the baseball fields at the Fountain Lake/ Jessieville Boys and Girls Club?
01/19/2022 — 9:55 pm
The article was pointing out “Misdirections”. I simply wanted to clear up any misconception of school choice, since it was one of the authors mentioned points of “misdirection”. I was simply explaining that Fountain Lake can’t just choose to deny all school choice applicants, which is being insinuated in point number 3 of the article. (“self-inflicted” & “He has virtually doubled the number of choice students during his tenure.”).
Also, the 90% threshold would apply by grade level, so the small dip in total student enrollment you mention wouldn’t necessarily ease the cramped classrooms experienced in some grades.
As to class sizes, the following numbers show what 90% capacity would be in certain grade level classrooms.
-27 students in grades 5-12 (max 30)
-23 students in 4th grade (max 25)
-21 students in grades 1-3 (max 23)
-18 students in Kindergarten (max 20)
You can have rather large classes and still be below the 90% threshold. If the school could have smaller class sizes it would improve the learning environment for students.
Yes a baseball and softball complex is included in the millage proposal. This would be a great addition for the Fountain Lake Baseball and Softball programs. Bussing the players to the current off campus field, takes 15 minutes each direction, plus some time to load and unload players and equipment. An on campus complex would give the players approximately an extra 45 minutes a night to study, do school work, rest, etc. The complex would also be an asset to our community. It would open up opportunities for our community and alleviate the current shortage of available area fields needed by groups such as: youth leagues, travel teams, school teams, and adult/senior recreational teams. Not to mention the fields at the Boys and Girls club do not drain water well, which puts an even greater strain on access for these groups.
01/16/2022 — 1:48 pm
David Plaxico’s misleading statement about Amendment 79’s freeze of tax bills for home owners age 65 and/or disabled is the result of incomplete knowledge of that law. Careful readers will discover the exception to this freeze is if we the people vote to increase our millage rate. This is exactly what FLSD is asking us to do with its 5 mill increase. If passed, EVERYONE will have their tax bill increased for the next 30 years. This is a prime example of why a half-truth is more dangerous than an outright lie.
01/19/2022 — 10:17 pm
I don’t think Mr. Plaxico’s comment is misleading at all. He is FURTHER explaining point #2 from the article. FLSD would not get an EQUAL match of revenue gain from the anticipated rise in property assessment values when the reappraisal is completed. This is due to the many properties being “frozen” (65 years old or disabled). Those properties frozen would not pay more taxes from the reappraisal process. They would only pay additional taxes IF the millage passes.
John C Sowers
01/26/2022 — 8:50 pm
As background, the glue that held my small hometown of Seminole, OK together through the past 50 years of hard times was education support. It now has a new, modern high school and excellent Seminole State College. It produced national debate winners, many state champion sports teams, Rhode scholars, a Governor, US Senator, President of OU, World War II Code Talker, Sonic founder, Integrated Marketing Communication founder, top professionals and leaders in all occupations, and many veterans.
All K-12 students in HSV and surrounding areas need and deserve great schools. Please read the recent series of articles in the Village Voice provided by those who work and teach daily at FLS. They discuss positive student/community health and fitness services, but also point out many serious facility issues, including crowded classrooms, technical training shortfalls, disruptive lunch periods and having to conduct some classes in open foyers.
FLSD hasn’t had a millage increase for 30 years. This increase will have near and long-term positive impacts on everyone in HSV, regarding our economy, security, safety, and property values. HSV residents are too generous and wise to let a few naysayers call this millage increase a boondoggle and scam and who want to keep our local kids from having great schools and a great future.
PLEASE VOTE, AND VOTE YES FOR THE FLSD MILLAGE INCREASE ON OR BEFORE FEBRUARY 8, 2021.
John C. Sowers
Hot Springs Village