Friday, September 04, 2015

TOP STORY >> Moore, Reichenbach, Roper for Zone 3

Leader senior staff writer

Three men, none on the appointed board, have filed for the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Zone 3 seat. One — Barry Roper — is a write-in whose name will not actually appear on the Sept. 15 ballot. Early voting is Tuesday through Monday, Sept. 14.

Jim Moore, 68, has worked as a human resource manager for 26 years in the Air Force, then, after retirement, for two companies, he said. He is currently director of Christian education, including children and youth ministries, for his church.

“I also taught at Beebe in the in-school suspension program,” Moore said. “I made sure they got their lessons and homework.”

Moore said he earned a bachelor’s degree in social psychology at Park University at the Base Joint Education University and also an Air Force degree in human resources management.

He has also served as president of the Stonewall Subdivision Homeowners’ Association since 1995.

Jerry Reichenbach, 72, said he worked in the Title I and Title II programs for the Pulaski County Special School District for 10 years and put all five of his kids through that school system.

Reichenbach retired after 26 years in the Air Force. He has some technical college credits and graduated from Air Force leadership schools.

“I was an aircraft welder and civil engineer,” he said, and performed flight-simulator maintenance with the C-130 School House at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Roper, 57, the write-in, is in his fourth year of substitute teaching. Last year, that took him to seven different high schools and five middle schools in four different school districts.

“I’ve taught everything,” Roper said, including band, choir and AP chemistry.

Roper has a bachelor’s in marketing from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.


Moore said he’s running because he has two grandchildren in the system, one in middle school and one in elementary school.

“I want to ensure that our children receive a world-class education, which they really need in today’s environment,” Moore said. “I want to make sure we have quality facilities for them to obtain a great education.”

He noted that Pinewood Elementary still had open classrooms, which provide too many distractions for students.He also wants to improve playgrounds by making them safer.

Moore is chairman of the Jacksonville Planning Commission, too.

He continued, “I want to make sure we have quality teachers and that they are paid very well, whether they have five years or 20 years experience.

“I want to work as a team player with the rest of the board members to make sure we do have world-class education and facilities.”

As for the board/superintendent balance, he said the board doesn’t run schools; the superintendent runs schools.

Moore also said he had applied for appointment to the interim board currently making decisions for the district.

Reichenbach says he’s running because “It’s time for new people.”

“Even though I’m past having kids in the system, it’s just time for new blood.” He said he wants to make a difference from the old standbys. “I had experience on how the Title I program worked. None of the others running have that.”

As a board member, Reichenbach said he’d “ensure that we have a quality teaching force” and do not let children fall behind no matter what grade they were in.

He said he worked in the petition drive to get the new district on the ballot and voted for it.


Roper said he had not only worked in several districts over the past four years, but he graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1976 and his wife and children also graduated from PCSSD schools.

“I’ve seen strong points and areas we need to improve upon,” he said. “I’d like for us to be a competitive school district and to help us get stronger where we are weak.”

As a board member, Roper said he’d help the district become more competitive and would encourage buy-in from the community.

He’d like to see speakers in district schools from within the community — successful business people, people from the air base. He’d have them available for all grade levels. “There are positive things in the community,” he said, “We need to publicize good things.”

Roper said it was important for Jacksonville to have its own district. In the past, “We were tied by county regulations and guidelines, everything from teaching math and English to internal rules,” he said. “We’ve been handcuffed. We need to adopt our policies to our community.”

Roper said it was imperative to bring schools up to standards and, “the community needs to understand and buy in. Our facilities are poor in some cases, non existent in others...We need to get them to understand how new and improved schools benefit community in the long run.”


Roper said he thought salary should be increased for more experienced teachers as money becomes available. The salary schedule that goes into effect next school year tops out at about $55,000 — as much as $20,000 less than the most experienced, educated PCSSD teachers earn.

“We don’t have a lot of the facilities others do,” he said. “All we have to offer is money, but don’t have the resources. Initially, we may not be able to match what they are used to.”

Reichenbach said the Jacksonville area needs its own district and that the proof is in the history — things were done south of the river, new schools and new systems “while Jacksonville continued the old grind.”

He said he’d prefer not to have to pass a property tax increase but “I think it’s going to be needed. Money only goes so far.”

He said he favors the millage increase even though he doesn’t have children in the system.

As for the salary schedule, which shorts the most experienced teachers compared to what they do or would earn at PCSSD, Reichenbach said, “There’s only so much money to pay so many people. The pay is equitable, given the money available.”


Moore said that, as a former Air Force recruiter dealing with various high schools, he found that the smaller school districts could create a better education for the students, which helps grow the community.

“People have told me that once we get our (district) up and running, they are going to bring their children back to Jacksonville,” Moore said. That will bring in economic and population growth, he noted.

He said, if the board voted to support a millage increase, he wouldn’t have a problem with that. “We’d have to do that to fund schools properly,” he said. “You can’t do it with fundraisers.” He said a property tax increase is the best way to raise the needed money, along with grants.


Moore said the new board would have to revisit the salary schedule after the election, and consider the number of students who would be enrolled in the district and the amount of money from the state.

“If you want quality education, you have to hire and pay teachers. They’ve gone through a lot to get degrees and continuing education. Come February or March, we’ll have a better idea.”

Moore said his experience in various areas, including human resources, makes him the best candidate for the job.

He said there are certain procedures for dealing with “people problems and human resources.” He said his years in the Air Force, dealing with Social Security and working with children, youth and adults at his church, made him best qualified.

He said, as a board member, it would be his responsibility to support the superintendent and assistant superintendent.


Reichenbach said he’d be an interested board member. “The board is the advisor to the superintendent,” he said. “He’s the CEO, the man at the top. He makes decisions depending on input from his board.”

Roper said he liked the way the board is set up now, with five zones and two at-large positions. “It needs to be fluid,” he said. “Reviewed every year.”

“Nobody on the board now has been in as many classrooms, schools and districts as I,” said Roper. “I see what’s important and what’s window dressing,” he said, adding that he had worked in sales for 31 years and understood setting, planning and attaining goals.

He said he was “Very comfortable with (Tony Wood) the superintendent we hired. He’s more than competent, his heart’s in the right place, and he has the best interest in the school and the schools’ place in the community.”

As the write-in candidate, “My name will not appear in the ballot,” Roper said. “It will be listed among candidates on the information page.”

That’s because he didn’t decide to run until the last minute. “I haven’t run for anything since high school,” he said, but “It’s important enough to try anyway.”