LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday expressed disappointment in the resounding defeat of a proposal to extend a millage tax for the state-controlled Little Rock School District.
The governor said the millage extension would have helped the district progress toward a return to local control but said there are other ways the district can reach that goal.
“I supported the millage’s passage even though I didn’t have a vote, I’m a resident of Benton County. I thought it was important for the district and I thought it was important really to achieve the goals that we need to turn it back to local control,” Hutchinson told reporters at the state Capitol.
The proposed 14-year tax extension to raise $160 million for construction of a new high school in southwest Little Rock and improvements at all other campuses in the district failed Tuesday with 65 percent of votes cast against it and 35 percent for it.
The state Board of Education voted to take over the district in 2015 because six of its schools were academically distressed.
Hutchinson said Wednesday, “I want to see more families making choices and saying that we have confidence in the direction of the Little Rock School District and its future so that it can be competitive, you can have the strongest education performance, and I thought that the millage vote was important for that purpose, but there’s other ways to accomplish that objective.
“You’ve just got to stay in there and focus on the children and academic performance and improving the school district every day. I know (state-installed Superintendent) Mike Poore’s committed to that.”
Some who opposed the proposal, including the group No Taxation Without Representation, objected to extending the tax while the district does not have an elected governing body that is accountable to voters.
No Taxation Without Representation said in a statement late Tuesday night, “Today’s result does nothing to change the fact that students and families deserve to know what lies ahead for a generation, not a few years. This type of foresight must become a plan developed by and committed to by the people of this district.”