Early voting is underway in Washington and Benton counties.
In Pea Ridge — the school district is asking residents to approve a 3.9 mill tax increase. School officials are hoping residents will approve the millage increase in order to build a new high school which will cost around 20 million dollars.
“When this building was built around 2000 I think we had about 75 students on this campus. And right now we’re just under 700.” said Charlie Clark.
Charlie Clark, the principal of Pea Ridge High School, said a new school is needed. Last year, the district wanted residents to pass a 5.1 mill tax increase for a new high school, but it was rejected by voters.
“One thing the school district has done, Mr. Neal and Mr. Martin have done a good job listening to our community to find out why it didn’t pass.” said Clark.
“There’s just been better communication from the school leaders. They really listened to the people that voted no. They held a lot of forums and they really got out there into the community.” said John Humphrey, who lives in Pea Ridge.
John Humphrey has three kids currently enrolled at Pea Ridge schools. Last year he voted no on an increase. But when he hit the voting center on Wednesday, that changed.
“I think this is definitely needed. There’s overcrowding. I’ve seen it with my kids and this new plan that they’ve put forward really gives us a chance to increase our education.” said Humphrey.
A big change with this years proposal is location. The school was originally going to be built on Hayden road but will now be built on Hazleton if approved.
“I’m really for it now. The new location they proposed is perfect for this town and is giving us the ability to really expand the town more than what the proposal was last year.” said Humphrey.
The state would pay 52% of the nearly $20 million school, tax payers would pay the rest. Something it seems residents are okay with this time around.
“I think it’s important for the future of this town that we get this approved.” said Humphrey.
Early voting goes until February 12th and Special Election Day is on the 13th. That’s when residents will find out if the mill increase passed.