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Over the past few weeks, many accusations have been lobbied against the Mountain Home Public School District over its second attempt at a millage increase.
The millage increase has become one of the most contentious topics in Mountain Home, with multiple parties vying to control the narratives surrounding the topic.
These parties include the Mountain Home School Board, Mountain Home Superintendent Dr. Jake Long, A+ for Education, Citizens for MHSD Accountability, Baxter County Republican Chairman Chris Chamberlin, The Ozark Patriots, The Baxter County Citizens Watch, and the MH Watchdogs.
On one hand, the school district and its superintendent claim to have done nothing wrong or illegal, while stating that they are willing to fix any mistakes that they may have made.
On the ‘no’ side, many have pledged to defeat a millage increase no matter what. Condescending mailers have sent out to the public by anonymous individuals, much to the cheers of the higher profile members of the no side, who claim to not be involved. Many on this side have pushed to insert national politics into the conversation surrounding Mountain Home’s high school.
Some have engaged in dirty tactics and smears against each other.
Lastly, two individuals, Melissa Klinger and Mark Howson, have written editorial articles on their own websites detailing interviews with the district, as well as documents obtained through FOIA requests.
While I do not agree with some of Klinger and Howson’s opinions or editorial writings on the millage issue, their FOIA requests may have uncovered state violations by the Mountain Home school board. I am focused on those potential violations at the moment.
To my knowledge, I am the only journalist in Mountain Home, to agree to look into Klinger and Howson’s findings and claims. I fully understand the hesitancy of my peers to enter this discussion, with the potential to be scapegoated for a loss on either side of this ballot issue.
This is a small town, and people take things more personally here than they do in bigger cities. It’s hard to separate the job from the person when they write something you don’t like. I know, I’ve experienced it first hand with my own writings.
That said, I feel ethically bound to seek out the truth, regardless of the consequences. In full transparency to the public, I am for the millage increase.
Because we are only one week away from early voting, regularly published stories written by me may be intermittent this week. I have a large file of documents to finish shifting through, hours of interviews to listen to, and even more interviews to conduct.
I will try to get out articles covering the details of what has occurred over the past few weeks and months. Tomorrow, I will be writing about the accusations surrounding the district’s library program since it was addressed during this past Thursday’s school board meeting.
I will end with this: Mountain Home is a unique community. Many are are new here, transplants from other parts of the country seeking a better life. Many more belong to families that have been here since the 1800s. They’ve lived here all of their lives.
At the end of the day, we should all remember that we are neighbors. We live next to each other, we work together, and our children go to school together.
We should always remember that fact, even when we disagree on political issues.