I don’t have children in the Huntsville School District. Unless the district decides to open some dog-training school, I doubt I can ever say that I do.
But I voted Tuesday morning for the district’s millage proposal. Not because I will have kids who one day reap the benefit of playing in better facilities or having better career opportunities after high school, and not because I want to not sweat out an entire days’ worth of water covering a basketball camp (though that part would be very, very appreciated), but because without something like what the school has proposed, I believe Huntsville will dry up.
We’re already losing students. The School Choice numbers are there to prove that, as are the declining enrollment statistics given at each school board meeting. That means we’re also losing families to our neighbors who have better facilities and have invested in their communities to make them better places to live.
I like living in Huntsville. It’s quiet and peaceful, but it’s also been poised for some time for a growth that simply hasn’t come – a growth that has sprouted seemingly in every northwest Arkansas region but Madison County. Our downtown business owners are struggling, and we can’t even keep our locals here for graduation, let alone lure outside interest. Our bypass remains largely barren on its north and south sides, despite the heavy traffic that flows between the two on any given day. We are a pass-through town, and will remain that way until something drastic is done.
I voted for the millage on Tuesday because I believe it’s vital for the growth of our community as a whole, not just the school district. Outside being more comfortable covering basketball games, I won’t personally benefit from the activity center or the CTE facilities like our students will, but I believe that our restaurant owners, our convenience stores and our economy as a whole will be better for them. I voted for the millage increase on Tuesday because, though places like Hindsville and St. Paul are also great places and have a unique identity that’s all their own, they’re also places that at one time were boons of their region and have suffered due to surrounding growth that they were unable to become a part of, and I believe Huntsville is at risk of suffering a similar fate if we don’t invest in it soon.
Our Letters to the Editor section is filled with people encouraging readers to vote for the children of Madison County. I can’t dispute that, but I will add to it – a vote for the millage isn’t just a vote for the children: it’s a vote for the vitality of our town, because if we don’t invest in growth now, we can only get smaller.