Survey Reveals Why Voters Rejected School-Overcrowding Tax Plan
Voters in the Bentonville Public Schools district in June rejected a proposed millage increase because of the cost of the plan to relieve school overcrowding, the impact on property taxes and the cost of athletic facilities included in the proposal.
Those findings come from the results of a voter survey the district released to the media on Wednesday.
A proposed millage tax increase to fund a second high school in the Bentonville School District failed in a public vote on June 26 by 58 to 42 percent.
The 6.7 mil increase would have paid for a new 2,000-student high school campus in Centerton to relieve overcrowding at Bentonville High. The rest of the money would have gone toward a new school sports complex, district-wide technology upgrades and other improvements in the district.
On Aug. 24, the district sent a postcard survey to 8,842 voters in the district asking the reasons they either supported or did not support the millage proposal. By Sept. 21, the district had received 1,712 responses, with more coming in, according to an executive summary from the district.
The top reason people supported the millage was to relieve overcrowding. The next two highest reasons were to have two high schools in the district instead of one and to bring in more “district-wide technology needs,” according to the survey.
The top reasons respondents did not support the millage was the cost of the plan, the impact on property taxes and the cost of athletic facilities, the survey shows.
The executive summary included with the survey results indicated the largest number of handwritten comments on the postcard surveys addressed the “high price of the millage tax.”
“The second largest handwritten topic was concerned with the price of the new athletic facilities,” the executive summary states. “Many people thought the junior high students should compete on practice fields so that high school will be an even a more amazing experience.”
A Bentonville HIgh School Short Term Growth Committee that began meeting Sept. 25 will evaluate options for dealing with continued growth in the district and present their “top choices with pros and cons” to Superintendent Michael Poore in six to 10 weeks, the executive summary states.
Poore has said some options to relieve overcrowding at Bentonville High include the use of portable classrooms and a split schedule to compensate for the overflow.
Poore also said the district will seek to have the millage issue put on the ballot next spring, which means a second high school wouldn’t be completed until 2016 if voters approve the proposal.