White County Central School Board member Larry Stevens’ son, Deklan, is a senior at the high school, but although his son is heading toward graduation, Stevens said “I am not just running [for re-election] because my kid is there.”
Stevens, who has been a member of the White County Central School Board for 10 years, serving two five-year terms, is trying to get re-elected Nov. 2 against challenger Brandon Martin. Early voting begins Oct. 26 at the White County Clerk’s Office, 315 N. Spruce St., and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Voting on election day will be in the school district’s auditorium from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Stevens, a 1987 graduate of White County Central High School, said he started running for the School Board because “I just care about the school, the district; this is my community. I owned my own business and I just felt I was able to have the time to do that and wanted to be able to give back to my school and my community.”
He said with White County Central voters having just passed a 2-mill property tax increase for improvements and changes to the school district, “I really want to be a part of this next year to try to get things going good with this building project.”
“We’re fixing to spend somewhere around 10 to 12 million dollars on building projects and things at the school and I have over 35 years’ experience in building,” Stevens said. “I am a licensed contractor. I have owned a cabinet shop and I have done all these things.”
Stevens said it is hard to say when ground will be broken on the new projects that will take place thanks to the passage of the millage. He said the next board meeting would be his last if he were to lose the election.
“I want to do one more year on this board,” Stevens said. “The main deal is this building project right here and I do have a lot of experience with this stuff.”
He said “a lot of people don’t know that” this election concerns only a one-year term.
“Next year, all five board members are coming off and the way I understand, if we decided [during rezoning] to go with five board members like we have, we will have five zones,” he said. “We’ll have five board members and one will run for a five-year term, one will be running for a four-year term, one will be running for a three-year term is the way I understand it because each year we are going to have to have one coming on, one coming off, like we’ve been doing.”
The board is having to rezone because its minority 2020 U.S. Census numbers were above a 10 percent threshold established by Arkansas Code Annotated 6-13-631.
Stevens said the board has hired an independent group to study how the board is set up. He said the board has not yet voted on its makeup regarding zones. Superintendent Dean Stanley said rezoning is not expected to be addressed at Thursday’s meeting.
Stevens also addressed challenges when COVID-19 spiked this summer and the board passed a mask mandate to begin this school year, saying he hasn’t seen a lot of complaints.
“We’ve got a good school. Things have been going good, growing,” he said. “We have had some complaints over the mask mandate but overall, I have had a lot of support being on the board. We have had a lot of good things happening for the school with it growing.”