Leader Blues

Friday, August 22, 2008

TOP STORY > >Aldermen endorse idea of a separate district

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council approved a resolution Thursday night supporting carving out a separate school district from the Pulaski County Special School District.

Local groups of city leaders, concerned parents and residents pushing for the separate district have been battling the PCSSD board over the proposed new district.

Surveys for years have pointed to the county schools in Jacksonville as a negative plume in the city’s cap. The last new school to be built in Jacksonville was about 35 years ago and the impression is that the district puts more of its money in schools south of the city rather than to facilities in Jacksonville.

The resolution, the second one in the past three years, was unanimously approved by the council.

The resolution, which supporters will use in their next presentation before the district board, states that Jacksonville “values each child’s right to a quality education and having a quality school system within each community that is attractive to prospective residents.”

The resolution went on, “The Jack-sonville City Council has long been dedicated to the needed enhancement of the educational process and personal attention currently offered and provided to students with the city.”

A major point stated in the resolution is the city’s lack of control over its schools. “All citizens of our community are affected by the lack of local control of the school system currently available to students within the city.

The council believes the new school district can be created “with minor disruption to students or teachers and at no additional local or state costs.”
In other council business:

Aldermen agreed to waive competitive bidding to purchase a $26,000 bearing assembly for one of the six main pumps in the wastewater plant.

Thea Hughes, wastewater utility manager, said the pumps are twenty years old and the only company that has the part is the manufacturer of the pump. She added that this was the first bearing unit to go out in the pumps.

The council approved the fire department’s plan to join an equipment-buying consortium out of Texas enabling the department to get many pieces of equipment at cheaper prices because of the group’s buying power. One example cited was a fire engine, in which the department would save about $35,000 ordering it through the consortium.

The council approved the rezoning of a parcel of land on North First Street, south of Bible Baptist near Woolfort Street. The 3.6-acre lot had a mixed zoning of R-1 (single-family homes), C-2 (light commercial) and R-4 (mobile homes). The entire lot was changed to R-3 (multi-family) to allow the construction of duplexes.

In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Gary Sipes said his department responded to 3,165 complaint calls in July. Police arrested 357 arrests and made 44 juvenile contacts.

In July, more than $153,000 worth of items was reported stolen, while $31,577 worth of items was recovered.

Fire Chief John Vanderhoof’s monthly report to the council stated that his department responded to 126 rescue calls, 44 still alarms, 36 general alarms and had 231 ambulance runs in July.

Estimated fire loss for July was $567,400, while fire savings was estimated at $268,000.

Independent auditors re-viewing the city’s 2007 budget reported that Jacksonville was financially sound and moving forward