Petition organized against school district tax plan

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

By Christian Coffman

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Dana and Kevin Wilson say their frustration over the belief  the Natchez-Adams School District intends to undermine voters led the Natchez couple to start a petition to do something about it.

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The local business owners are gathering signatures of registered voters in Adams County to put on the ballot the school board’s decision to borrow $9 million for a new high school and other construction projects.

To put the measure on the ballot, the petition must include at least 20 percent of the qualified voters in Adams County.

Kevin Wilson said he thinks he needs approximately 4,000 signatures to meet the requirement.

Petitions are available at the Wilsons’ businesses, Ram Rent-All Inc. and Oh-So Classy Events and Party Rentals on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Kevin Wilson said petitions are also available at BB’s Grill, Wilson Supply, Ketco Advertising & Specialties and Black Jack Oil Company.

The deadline to turn in the petitions to the District’s Administration Building on Homochitto Street is 4 p.m. Thursday.

Kevin Wilson said he and his wife organized the petition after the school board decided to borrow the money, even though voters rejected the board’s efforts in a May school bond referendum.

“We had an election to block the $35 million, and it was soundly defeated,” Kevin Wilson said. “Then they come up with this plan and say, ‘We’ll go around the electorate and do what we want to do.’ That’s the way I see it.”

Dana Wilson said that the democratic process has been compromised and that she is opposed to funding a new failing school.

“How can the school board circumvent the vote?” she asked. “What is this teaching our children: if you don’t get what you want, you manipulate the system and find a loophole?”

Kevin Wilson said he feels confident he will have enough signatures by the deadline.

“We’ll make it,” he said. “We have petitions spread out in local businesses all over town.”

Both of the Wilsons graduated from South Natchez High School and say they are not opposed to a new high school. However, they are against spending money unwisely and without representation.

Dana Wilson said the board should focus on how to get the district’s statewide test scores up.

“If they can get our scores up, maybe the taxpayers would be more open to funding our schools,” she said.

The couple said one way to improve scores is to promote more parental participation in the school district, something the couple says they see little of when they attend Natchez High School basketball games and other events.

But the way the school board is circumventing the voters is not the answer, Kevin Wilson said.

“Our tags are going to go up, our property taxes will go up,” he said. “It’ll affect the rich, the poor, everybody.”