It is time to pay our civic rent

By John Knowling, Highland School District Taxpayer

The current proposal for a new High School at the Highland School District needs our attention and support. In my opinion the request is reasonable and the need is obvious. I, like many of you, do not have children attending Highland Highschool. In fact my wife and I have five children, fourteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren none of whom have attended or will be at-tending Highland High School. The fact that we as a family do not use the high school does not in my opinion excuse us from the responsibility of supporting the young people of this community. Our family did attend schools in the areas where they lived and those schools were supported by taxpayers of those districts. In my view, many of us who have chosen to move to this area did so partially to avoid high taxes in the area we left behind. Even with the modest increase in taxes for the new school our tax bill will still be substantially lower than what we were paying in our previous location. Some of the readers of this letter may recall that I did not support the smaller request a few years ago. My objection to the plan then was that no actual plan was offered but instead a list of projects without along range view. I was critical of the school Board and Administration at that time for their lack of planning. The proposal this time is comprehensive and if built will provide for the needs of the district for multiple generations. I have toured the current building and while the district has made a good effort in maintaining the structure, it has reached its useful lifespan. In my opinion the safety concerns alone are apparent reason enough to replace the facility. Those who do not see the safety issues maybe thinking “it could never happen here” when we see school shootings from other parts of our country. We are trying to operate a school facility developed in the 1960s in the 2020s.A lot has changed in the last 60 years both in building protocols and societal behavior. The actual age and condition of the building does not make it a candidate for remodel. It is my understanding that the six million plus in funds can only be used for total replacement. My wife and I have owned property and paid taxes in Sharp County since 2002and we have lived here full time since2010. Like many res-idents our motivation to move here did have a lot to do with the taxes we were paying in our previous location com-pared to the tax level in Cherokee Village. The State of Arkansas has made decisions which are helpful to anyone moving to the state but especially to retirees. In our case we are paying taxes which are nearly $3000 less per year for the same size home than we paid in Iowa. This amount of saving certainly allows us to pay a reasonable additional amount to help with providing a 21st century high school. We think the investment will pay dividends for the students and the community at large. Our civic rent is due and it is time for us to pick up our share of the load

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