Friday, March 13, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Give district all its money

Memo to: The Pulaski County Special School District.

From: Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District patrons.

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is completing its separation from the Pulaski County Special School District on schedule. An interim school board is in place, and school board elections will be held in September. The new district should become completely independent during the 2016-17 school year.

But, according to Leader reporter John Hofheimer, there is friction between the two districts over the state’s final desegregation payment of $20.8 million to PCSSD.

PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess wants to keep the entire amount for his district, while Daniel Gray, who sits on both the PCSSD advisory council and is president of the JNP interim board, says the new district should keep one-fourth of the desegregation settlement — or $5.2 million — since it will educate and build for about one-quarter of former PCSSD students when the new district breaks off.

Gray cites PCSSD chief financial officer Bill Goff’s projections as proof that the county district could build its facilities program without the $5.2 million that JNP is demanding. Goff says his projections include the real possibility that JNP would get a quarter of that final payment.

Hofheimer says this rift appears to be the biggest bone of contention between the parent district and its offspring. Jacksonville must insist on getting that desegregation money as it builds its own district from scratch.

The new district will need all the funding it can get. That $5.2 million will make a good down payment for a new high school or elementary school the district is planning to build in a few years.

Jacksonville Superintendent Bobby Lester should sit down with Guess and make certain that Jacksonville gets a cut of that desegregation money. Jacksonville has been shortchanged for too long — inadequate facilities, elimination of important subjects that are no longer taught, to name a few — so let’s not send all that state money to Dixon Road. The state can send $5.2 million to the JNP’s temporary address on Main Street in Jacksonville.

We are looking forward to taking a photograph of an oversized check for $5.2 million as soon as it arrives. We thank you in advance.