Lee County School District and the yearly millage request

Posted in the Marianna Forum

Saul Lusk

Little Rock, AR

#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 District’s 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
purposes.”

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 don’t 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!
guest

United States

#2 Nov 9, 2011
Fail
guest

Little Rock, AR

#3 Feb 3, 2012
Numbers don't lie........

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