I gotta tell ya, I was pretty disappointed with Hope’s millage vote last week. A positive vote would put our teachers in a pay scale they deserve, not to mention something that would help retain them when they get better offers elsewhere. A positive vote would repair some of our ancient buildings like the Yerger gym and the High School Agri building. It would speak volumes to our students about their worth and help set the standard for an all around better education. But we didn’t get that positive vote.
I’m just speculating, but I see reasons for that on both sides. The side that could easily afford the raise in taxes and voted no did so to save money. They thought the increase was too much at once. They thought our facilities were nice enough. A quick tour of Yerger tells me that the “no” group doesn’t think too much of our students. 12 mills is not a crazy amount to raise our millage. It would put us at the normal mark for other growing schools in our state. In the case of those who can afford the tax, the cost per day for someone with a $100k house would be $.67. Short of a couple gumballs, I can’t think of anything that costs less than $.67 nowadays. I can think of lots of things I spend my money on daily that I could eliminate to afford a couple gumballs.
I also understand the side that voted no and would be put in a tight spot financially. I’m in that category. This tax would be harder for me to assume. But I feel that it would be worth it, especially to keep the excellent teachers we have and not feel bad about inviting new ones to the team. I would readily do what it takes for my family to be able to afford this. I think most of us in the tighter spot feel this way.
Honestly, there is another group and I believe I am most disappointed in them. That’s the group that didn’t vote at all. When are the citizens of our town going to realize the most effective thing we do is work together? I think our worst trend is our tendency to complain about all the things we don’t have and then refuse to do what it takes to achieve them. Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of and thankful for our town. I see the Lord doing so many good things around us. But there comes a time when the faithful citizen needs to act, and I believe this was one of those moments. And we lost. That doesn’t mean our town is finished or our schools need to be bulldozed. It just means that it's past time for us to act.
The children of Hope, AR are one of the most overlooked, undervalued resources we have. We complain about our college age students leaving Hope and never coming back, but we don’t give them any reasons to stick around. Jobs are not the only reason people choose to live here. Things like story, family, the ability a town has to care for its own, and environment matter just as much, if not more than jobs. When the other pieces are in place, people will figure out how to make money. I’m over the moon thankful for all the jobs our community has to offer, but we have to realize that there’s more to the equation than work. The way we care for our kids ranks pretty close to the top of the list. I grieve the loss of the Husqvarna plant in Nashville, and I believe this millage vote runs a close second to the pain that’s felt there. If we can’t provide an environment that values children, why would they want to come home?
If you read this article and get mad, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to provoke anyone. I am trying to say what I feel a lot of people think and can’t say. I’m writing for a purpose; an end. My end goal is a town that’s ready to stop complaining and start working; to stop seeing all that’s wrong and start seeing and making things right. I believe my desire can only be realized when those who are marked by Jesus begin to act. I expect people who don’t know Jesus to value their money over the kids in our community. I expect people who’ve never been changed and challenged by the love of God to complain about negative things. I don’t expect Christians to do that, and I’m tired of hearing it. I expect Christians to lead the way in change for the better in every arena. When will we get to work? The old adage says “When we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”