A community meeting held Tuesday night at Beekman Charter School had citizens on both sides of a new property tax speaking out.
The meeting, held to inform Beekman residents about a property tax placed on the ballot for a special election to be held May 5, drew a small crowd, but those in attendance had definite thoughts about an additional tax.
"Because we were able to become a charter school, we are now in the position to offer students something that has never been a possibility before, and that is to start school here in their community in pre-k and actually graduate as seniors," Keith Huntsman, president of the Beekman Charter School Board said. "But, we need to expand the school and are going to have to build more classrooms as well as a new cafeteria."
Huntsman went on to explain the new tax as well as the language of the proposition, which clearly states the money would only be used for... "the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining or equipping public elementary and secondary schools in the District..."
BCS Principal Roy McCoy said the funds would enable the school to be in the position to become an "A" school in the eyes of the La. Board of Education.
"In order to become an "A" school, which I have no doubt we can do, we have to have certain things, like a chemistry lab for those taking that course and a band room for those wanting to participate in band," McCoy said. "We are in the process of making plans to offer students a full array of duel enrollment classes so when this year's freshman class graduates from Beekman Charter School, they could be a sophomore in college."
Opponents to the new tax felt that they should not be the only ones paying that cost, as students from outside the district now attend the school.
"Why can't those who don't live in the district but send their kids to school here pay too?" Tambra Hodges asked. "I'm don't have a problem with the school, I'm just not for paying more taxes when others are coming in and not paying at all."
When asked why the school could not be just for the community McCoy replied,
"If we had not made the move to a charter school, Beekman School might not have been here very long," he said. "There are not enough students to sustain it through high school and we would be at the mercy of the Morehouse Parish School Board, who could have voted to shut us down.
"Our mission is to provide the absolute best education we can to all those attending and keep our Ward 2 students right here in the community," McCoy continued.