Citizens Committee Helps School District With Potential Millage Recommendation

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A year after Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent, Doug Brubaker took office, he's asking for the help of community members with Vision 2023, a strategic plan to help make the district successful.

Vision 2023 includes objectives from safe and nurturing learning environments to technology and mental health for students.

"We have to give some thought as to what services, what facilities, what equipment you need in order to make that a reality," Brubaker said.

Now dozens of community members are reviewing the plan in a series of Citizens Committee Meetings.

"You have business owners, you have community leaders, you have parents," Alma Molleur, facilitator said. "This work takes time, so they'll be doing that over the next few weeks to assess where we wanna go, what we have, where are the gaps and where we need to go from here."

Those in the community will take tours of the schools in the district to get a better look at the facility and the meetings will feature discussions about school finance, facility master plans, millage options and state partnership.

Members like local pastor, Tim Beasley said they're excited to be a part of the process.

"I think it's really important that this diverse group of people are here because we love our kids, we love our schools and we like our community," Beasley said. "We're all working together to make sure our kids can have the very best education that they can."

The strategic planning team has spent thousands of hours creating Vision 2023 and now it's time to prioritize the needs for students and decide if resources are available for those needs.

"We are in the process of trying to reallocate and find efficiencies, but some of the things we're look at, some of the repairs that need to be done, some of the upgrades particularly things related to safety and security, they're big ticket items," Brubaker said. "We have to take a hard look at the bottom line and it may be that this group makes a recommendation to pursue additional revenue or not to."

If the resources are not available, it's up to the committee to help decide where the additional revenue will come from, potentially from a millage increase.

"In the state of Arkansas, that's one of the ways you increase the amount of resources that are available for your schools and your kids," Brubaker said. "We do have one of the lowest ones in the area, so that may be one of the things they're looking at."

Four other committee meetings and two school board meetings are scheduled for this process.

Fort Smith Public Schools administration and educators are also part of the meetings.

The next Citizens Committee Meeting is on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Morrison Elementary School at 5 p.m.

The final recommendations will be presented at a school board meeting on February 12.