Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

EDITORIALS>>General speaks, district listens

Every Little Rock Air Force Base commander in at least the last 20 years has tried to pry a new elementary school out of the Pulaski County Special School District, but it took a man with the skills and focus of Brig. Gen. Kip Self to make it happen.
Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, has made it his mission, among other objectives, to replace the crumbling Arnold Drive Elementary School.

For a year now, heís pleaded with and cajoled Pulaski County Special School District officials for the new building. Like any good commander, he knew where his big guns were and when and how to use them. Earlier this winter, he hosted visits to the 50-year-old school from Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Cong. Vic Snyder.

Less than two months later, a new school for the base had suddenly appeared on the districtís state-mandated school facilities master plan with an estimated $15 million price tag. The state would pay about 10 percent of that. Gen. Self has even offered to donate air base land for the new school, which PCSSD readily accepted, as well as they should, considering the millions of tax dollars the military pours into the district.

With a little push from our senators and congressman, district officials have moved the base school for the first time on to the master plan with occupancy tentatively slated for fall, 2011. That the air base could get a new school by the 2011-2012 school year is a miracle of sorts since the district hasnít built a school in Jacksonville in more than 30 years. Itís not often that school district officials deal with a forceful personality like Gen. Self, who not only wants the best for his airmen but also their families, especially their children. Let that be an example to all.