Controversy over a proposed tax has several Bastrop residents up in arms.
The tax, proposed by the Morehouse Parish School Board, would add 9 mills onto property taxes for residents in the School District 2012-1, a new District which is also being called the "West" School District. This school district does not include the Beekman School District or the East Morehouse School District, which is Mer Rouge, Bonita, Jones, Oak Ridge and Collinston. The tax will be on property owned in that district.
According to Morehouse School Superintendent Dr. George Noflin, the tax is vital to opening a sixth grade academy.
"Because the state core standards are going to be more rigorous as well as graduation requirements, we want to do all we can to prepare our students for junior high and high school," Noflin said. "In order to do this, opening a sixth grade academy and taking those students out of the junior high setting will allow us to really focus on those children who are at a stage of finding themselves and deciding what path they want to follow in the future."
The proposed school will be a transition for students leaving elementary and entering the new world of junior high and will be extremely structured, according to Noflin.
"I have heard across the parish from parents concerned about sending their babies to the junior high setting and this school will give them better footing to be able to deal with junior high," Noflin continued.
Noflin also hopes to implement other avenues for the 'tweens to explore what they can do by providing band, chorus, various clubs and intramural sports.
In order for the school proposal to get off the ground floor, there will have to be money spent that the school board does not have at present.
"Just like any other project, in order to open the academy, we will have to renovate the school [East Side Elementary] from roof to floor as well as deal with staffing and finding an administrator and this costs money," Noflin said.
Noflin will hold a town hall type meeting to discuss the proposal at 5 p.m. April 29 at the Morehouse Junior High School. There will be two principals speaking who are running sixth grade academies at present. Travis Beard, principal of Milam Elementary School in Tupelo, Miss. will speak regarding his school, which currently has 600 students and Mr. Washington of I.A. Lewis in Ruston will speak about his school, which currently has around 300 students.
The tax, while it is a tax, could be extremely beneficial to the parish and all I ask is that you become informed about its proposed usage before deciding to vote," Noflin concluded.