School board should work for all of community

Published 12:11 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

I’m quick to call it like I see it but I try to hang toward the high road as often as possible. I do understand that none of us are perfect and everyone deserves common courtesy and respect.

Natchez no longer has the tax base, income revenue, heavy industry or population base it once had. We are a shrinking population with a shrinking economy. A new property tax to fund the building of a new school tends to offend property tax payers. Why not make this a general sales tax increase that would be felt equally by all?

To solve issues and find a working balance among our priorities and our limitations, it is most important to be willing to work together and, at times, accept reasonable compromise. It’s also important that all government leaders, whether they are elected or appointed; fully understand that they work for ALL of the people. They must never forget this. When the voice of the people is determined by special elections such as the recent $35 million school bond issue then this should be respected and not worked around.

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Now I want to touch on racism in general. This is 2017. Natchez has a black mayor, the Honorable Darryl Grennell , whom both white and black voters elected with 91.6 percent of the vote.  Our black sheriff Travis Patten is doing an excellent job. The Natchez Board of Aldermen is composed of six board members of whom four are black.  The Adams County Board of Supervisors is composed of five members of whom three are black. The current and former Natchez Chief of Police are both black. Yes, we in Natchez are racially integrated.

Racism and bigotry are not a white only problem — you can be black and still qualify. I believe that bigotry does still exist but mostly in the minds of a very small number of weak minded people (both whites and blacks). We as citizens should not allow the comments and actions of a few distracters to divide us as a community.

I was so disappointed to view the BruceTV video of the Mr. Phillip West incident at the July 20, 2017 school board meeting. I was further dismayed to see Phillip West on YouTube further fanning the flames of racism at the NAACP Natchez Chapter.  Both videos are available online. I encourage each reader to be fully informed of West public comments and watch both videos.

Phillip West’s personal perspective, his past bad experiences, and the life he has lived obviously were very different than my own. I find it sad that he was unable to attend an integrated K-12 school 65 years ago. West is still living in the past. He may have his own issues with racism and bigotry to overcome. West should immediately issue a written public letter of apology for his accusing 3,000 petition signers (all local citizens) who were only asking for a public vote on a school board topic that includes a tax increase of being racist and non-Christian. If West is unwilling to do so then the school board, as a body, should issue this public apology. Apologies are needed!

Far too many old schools are in very poor condition, many support personnel, duplication of services, and way too much operational overhead. We also have an ‘F’ rated school district.  The school board is asking to be allowed to force the maximum possible millage on the local tax base.

I am supportive of building a new K-12 campus in the bean field. I see it only a matter of practicality and not a safety or student comfort issue.  We have got to reduce the operational cost to educate our children.

Where the school board has failed is by not winning the confidence of the citizens by showing voters how a new school campus can actually save money over 10-20 years. The school board needs to go back to the basics and do their own homework. They need to each eat a slice of humble pie while they are doing it.
Roy F King III has been an Adams County resident since 1974. He is a 22-year US Army NG veteran having served in Operation Desert Storm 1992 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005.