By James Lieble, Highland School District taxpayer

In case you haven’t heard, the Highland School District is running a special election on February 7-14 to try to pass a mill-age hike that was defeated less than three months ago. Those of us living in this school district pay a large part of our tax bill to the school district as property owners. Yet, much of the information about the expenditures of the tax revenue going to the school district is not available to the taxpayer. Those who are in opposition to a millage (tax) increase are seeking TRANSPARENCY and DUE DILIGENCE in communicating with the taxpayers and residents of the school district. Transparency in business, in work, and in politics is all about being OPEN and HONEST with all involved and cultivating a culture where information can flow timely between the people (citizens, the taxpayers). Transparency is a means of holding public officials account-able and guaranteeing citizens their elected officials are making all decisions in their best interests. Transparency includes budgets and plans, whether bricks and mortar, or curriculums made available for discussion; this is transparency. Due diligence is the final check off in the process of assuring the citizens a project is ready to move forward. Due diligence is the careful, thorough evaluation of a potential investment, “especially as required by law to protect against incurring liability.” Due diligence is showing respect to citizens by protecting their tax dollars for the common good. It is crucial for the school board to share how many other grants or avenues for funds to repair the present property have been researched, how many bids from other contractors they have sought, what would the impact on the school district be if the voucher system would be initiated by the state of Arkansas, how the district had money to purchase a health facility without including the taxpayers, how was the COVID money spent, and other large expenditures that could have helped cover the cost of replacement or maintenance on the school property. I urge all voters to contact your state representatives in both the House and the Senate and ask them to let you know when State Senator David Wallace introduces his Senate Bill that contains language regarding School Districts and their ability to call for Special Elections like this one! Trey Steimel, AR State House Representative, 870-809-1788. John Payton, AR State Senator, 501-250-5550. Both are very interested in your thoughts and opinions

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