Lee County School District and the yearly millage request
Posted in the Marianna Forum
#1 Oct 11, 2011
The recent Courier Index headline, based on statements of LCSD Superintendent Saul Lusk, was most interesting in its announcement that more layoffs, cuts are in store for the LCSD. The 4 mill increase in school tax which was just defeated was ostensibly for the purpose of debt service for a bond issue, the proceeds of which were to be used for refunding the Districts outstanding bonded indebtedness, constructing and equipping a new addition to the 5th and 6th grade wing and Physical Education Facility at Whitten Elementary, and constructing, refurbishing, remodeling and equipping other school facilities. The existing 1.3 mill tax for debt service was to be retained to provide a total of 5.3 mills dedicated to debt service.
The statement that more layoffs, cuts are in store since the proposed increase was defeated begs the question of......why so......if the
intended purpose of the increase was debt service? I suspect the answer can be found in the seemingly innocuous statement near the end
of the proposal, to wit:The surplus revenues produced each year by debt service millage may be used by the District for other school
In further pursuit of the issue, I made a few computations using data collected from two sources, both knowledgeable, but using differing
methodology. According to one source, the 4 mill increase, had it passed, would have resulted in an increase of $384,000 per year in
taxes to the LCSD.....for debt service. Add in the present 1.3 mills which was to be continued and the amount collected.....for debt service..... would amount to $509,000.....per year. Using the data from the other source, with different methodology, I came up with an amount collected.....for debt service.....of $594,000.....per year.
The amount of the proposed new bonded indebtedness was $2,385,000 which would mature over a period of 30 year. Assuming a 5.00%
interest rate and semiannual payments, by rough calculation the yearly debt service would have been around $155,000. So what about
the surplus $350,000 (or more)? Why.......of course.......The surplus revenues produced each year by debt service millage may be used
by the District for other school purposes. Such as.........salaries.........pe rhaps? Pretty clever......and devious.......eh?
For the school year 2009, the LCSD website provided the following information: Total Enrollment: 1,023; Total Staff: 236.
That worked out to one employee for every 4.33 students. What did all of them do? Since then I think there has been a RIF and the
website has been redesigned so that such information is no longer easily available. The LCSD and the Arkansas Dept. of Education sites are, in my opinion, typical of government websites........challenging as far as ease of extracting information. The district website does contain the contracts of employees but I do not have time to cull through and count them and I dont know if all employees are included. Suffice to say that it is my sense that the district still has a very bloated payroll.
In a final word, I note that Mr. Lusk stated in the news article that the district needed a charter school to compete for the best and brightest students. If charter schools are the answer, why not reform the whole public school system along those lines and let everyone reap the benefit?
Every year the LCSD asks for a millage increase, and every year they say Lee County has the lowest millage rate in the state, but what they DON'T say is that LCSD is 7th!!! in per student expenditures, at over $13,500 PER STUDENT. That compares to Palestine, which has a per-student rate of $9,031 and Barton a per-student rate of $8,880. Can they really say that lack of funding is the problem?
REMEMBER THIS NEXT YEAR WHEN THE LCSD WANTS TO RAISE OUR TAXES AGAIN!
#2 Nov 9, 2011
#3 Feb 3, 2012
Numbers don't lie........
#4 Nov 30, 2015
Just bumping up all of these topics to the top to point out that EVERY FREAKING YEAR these slimebags come back wanting to raise taxes and line their pockets with more taxpayer funds.
They WILL NOT STOP no matter how much they get.
Less than two years ago Lee County gave them their millage increase so they could do repairs on Anna Strong. They got their money, presumably spent a tiny portion of the funds on the repairs and squandered the rest, and now they want MORE MONEY to TEAR DOWN THE SCHOOL THEY REPAIRED.
#5 Mar 29, 2016
I see more noise about the LCSD requesting another millage increase.
A local attorney wrote a good letter a few weeks ago to the Courier Index, questioning WHY the super was allowed to keep her job when it is apparent that the school district is FAILING the students. As he said, it is obvious that the taxpayers are not getting their money's worth, yet there not only is NO ACCOUNTABILITY, but they have the gall to ask for more money... AGAIN!
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