Rethink school issue

    Please reconsider your views on the school funding formula issue discussed in your Sunday, Feb. 19, editorial.
    Your statement that Governor Tucker's plan would actually be giving districts more self-control is erroneous. Read the bill closely and you will see that virtually all control that matters will be taken away from the local school districts and given to the regional super-districts. Any decision made by a local school district can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the regional board. That is not my definition of local control.
    As president of the Fort Smith Council of PTAs, I have worked with the Fort Smith Public Schools' administration. As a parent of two children in the Fort Smith Public Schools, I have worked with principals, teachers and students. As it presently stands, decisions made by our fine school board and administration are as far removed from the classroom as is acceptable to me as a parent. To remove that control farther away to a regional board is intolerable.
    Fort Smith schools would not be affected much by consolidation. However, I can sympathize with parents in smaller schools. Often parents choose to locate their families in or near a small town for the benefits of a small school - leadership development, convenient participation in extra-curricular activities, making the team, familiarity between the teacher and the home, etc. Families should not be deprived of these opportunities.
    I understand that reorganizing the way Arkansas funds its public schools is necessary and court ordered. The governor has said his bill will not cost the state more money. I seriously question that statement. Added bureaucracy can't help but cost more money. Reshuffling the current administrations into regional administrations will result in more red tape, more paperwork, lost jobs, a wider gap between administrators and students, and general chaos. Consolidating transportation and food services can't possibly fund the unspecified salary for 7 to 13 good quality regional board positions and the offices and staff necessary to run such regional districts. The governor is proposing up-sizing our schools' administration when the nationwide trend in government and business is to down-size.
    Mr. Moseley, I urge you to retract your cheap shot at our state school boards and school administrators by calling them "ego-driven" and just "trying to protect their power and healthy paychecks." Education is their business. They are concerned foremost with our children's education. They know what will do damage and what will not better than a governor and a newspaper editor.
    The governor should reconsider the proposal of the Governor's Task Force on school funding. The Task Force was made up of State Board of Education members, school administrators and educators throughout Arkansas. Their proposal is complicated and a little more costly, but the future of Arkansas' children and their education is worth it.

Jeannie Cole
27 February 1995
Southwest Times Record