The Proposition R debate has been heated and has divided the Mehlville/Oakville community.  Before you head to the polls, we have put together a side by side comparison of the argument from each side of the issue for you to use in making your decision.

Editors note:  We requested a statement and clarification of certain details from both sides of the issue but as of the time of this posting we did not receive a response to our emails from any representatives of the Mehlville-Oakville United committee. 

VOTE NO

  • Source Tesson Ferry Townshop Republican Club

Links:

Why should you vote NO: Tesson Ferry Township Republican Club

Prop R is a Scam! If passed, less than one third of the money will be used in the classroom. They have twisted the facts, manipulated data, and omitted pertinent data just to deceive the public. Don’t be deceived read the facts!

Unfortunately of the 8 million dollars this proposition will raise, very little of it will make it to the classroom. Sixteen new teachers (one per school.) Two new football fields = 2 million, 1.2 million dollar investment in teacher development (a 650% increase that help long term but does not address today’s need) 1.2 million to curriculum ( a 600% increase.) Some bus maintenance, 100 thousand dollars for clubs and increase district reserves by 2 million dollars. You can bet that the remaining millions will wind up in the pockets of the district employees and the classroom situation will go unchanged. In the end, PTO’s will be called upon to provide basics like mulch on the playground and school supplies. The Mehlville end of the district will continue to suffer as parents on the poorer side of the district can’t support the PTO’s like they do in Oakville and they will never see a smart board like the ones donated by the PTO organizations in Oakville. Its great so many are concerned today but if prop R this passes, the School Board will continue their wasteful ways and nothing will change.

Fact: This school board has dramatically increased spending far beyond its means over a short period creating a false narrative.

The 2012\2013 budget was 99,642,000 – the following year it jumped to 105,638,000 – and then jumped again to 109,826,000 ( a 10.2% increase in two years). This spending spree caused the crises and they had to cut this year’s budget to 107,362,000. It is hardly catastrophic to return to fiscal responsibility.

They are pushing the passage of a Proposition R that will result in higher taxes and will do little to improve our schools.

The Details:

No new revenue for decades
Fact – Budget has grown from 78 million to 107 million

Lost 61 teachers
Fact – District sent out non renewal notices to over 100 teachers who then obtained other jobs. The district gets 150 applicants for every teacher position opening. There is no shortage of Rock Star teachers.

Underpay our teachers
Fact – Mehlville teachers make $8,000 more than the state average. From 2006 through 2015 the
average household income has declined by 8.3% while Mehlville Teacher salaries have increased dramatically during that time period (average teacher salary $57,000.) These are the raises that teachers have received in the last ten years.

Sourse (sic) Call Newspaper

SCHOOL YEAR LOWEST HIGHEST
2006 – 2007 1.62% 6.88%
2007 – 2008 6.00% 6.00%
2008 – 2009 0.00% 0.00%
2009 – 2010 4.80% 4.80%
2011 – 2012 3.00% 3.00%
2012 – 2013 1.27% 1.27%
2013 – 2014 2.50% 2.50%
2014 – 2015 2.50% 2.50%
2015 – 2016 3.50% 3.50%
TOTALS 25.19% 30.45%

Average Mehlville Teacher Salaries
2006 – $48,564
2015 – $56,946

State Average Teacher Salaries
2006 – $40,463
2015 – $48,479

Average Mehlville Administrator Salaries*
2006 – $96,876
2015 – $104,985

State Average Administrator Salaries*
2006 $75,180
2015 – $88,811
*Source Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education – http://mcds.dese.mo.gov/

Falling Property Values Caused this.
Fact – This is not true! Missouri Law allows school districts to manipulate tax rates based on assessed value up to a statutory limit. If property assessments decrease the school district is allowed to recoup by increasing tax rates. This allows the district to have a stable source of revenue. If property values increase they are limited to recover .08% of the increased value so they will not have a windfall from the higher assessment.

Property Values Falling
Fact – Mehlville had to lower the tax rate last month because of higher property vales in the district. Mehlville’s assessed value increase was in line with to Lindberg’s.

“HOME SALES ARE HOT” – click on following link: http://www.stltoday.com/business/columns/jim-gallagher/home-sales-are-hot-price-trends-warm-in-st-louis/article_fdd9dc9e-ac67-5200-bf99-26dae7ee29c0.html
Prop R Propaganda –

Mehlville has had to reduce teaching staff by 100 in the last ten years.
Fact – What they don’t tell you is the district has 1250 less students than they did ten years ago and have added Special School district staff that we pay for through Special School district taxes.

Mehlville has made 58 million dollars in un-restored budget cuts.
Fact – This is a total fabrication! The math used to come up with this number defies logic and is an outrageous attempt to mislead the public and is intellectually dishonest This is the explanation given to us (Tesson Ferry Republican Club) from the Call Newspaper on how this was arrived at;

On Sat, Oct 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM, wrote:
Been trying to find the source of the 58 million dollars of cuts you put in last weeks article. Can you tell me where to find that information As i would like to see what those cuts were

On Oct 10, 2015, at 5:15 PM, News 3 – Call Newspapers < news3@callnewspapers.com> wrote:
Actually I’m coming up with more like $68 million when I add it up again. I might not have included this year in the fiscal year analysis when I originally did it. There was a 2006 round of cuts, too.

2004 cuts – $1.6 million x 12 = $19.2 million
2006 cuts – $2.5 million x 10 = $25 million
2011 cuts – $4 million x 5 = $20 million

So you are multiplying each cut by the number of years ago it was made ?

On Oct 10, 2015, at 5:15 PM, News 3 – Call Newspapers < news3@callnewspapers.com> wrote:
Yes, cumulative – few if any of these have been restored. An exception was the three-tier bus system in the 2011 cuts, which ended up not saving the district money.

Using this logic it could be said that teachers have received 100 million dollar raises in the last ten years. But that would be as dishonest as the 58 million dollar statement which does not take and budgetary increases into account.

VOTE YES

Source: Mehlville-Oakville United website, http://www.mehlville-oakvilleunited.com/

Links:

Why you should vote YES: Oakville-United Committee Website:

RESTORE Mehlville School District with Prop R!

Despite shrinking revenues, Mehlville School District has operated efficiently for many years. But the district cannot afford to make further cuts without seriously jeopardizing student education.

District challenges:

  • $58 million in budget cuts since the 2004-2005 school year
  • $4 million slashed last spring, leading to a teacher exodus
  • Loss of 121 teachers,14 administrators and 53 support positions in the past decade, resulting in large class sizes and fewer course offerings
  • Struggling readers who wait for help due to understaffing; District-wide, there is 1 literacy coach for every 2,275 students
  • Insufficient learning tools; budget for textbooks & classroom materials cut by two-thirds, over $1,000,000
  • Zero investment in technology
  • Declining student achievement — once ranked among the top 60 school districts statewide, Mehlville now ranks in 172nd place
  • $55 million in deferred maintenance needs for its 16 schools and buildings

How Prop R can help:

  • Prevent an additional $3 to $5 million in cuts next year
  • Hire 16 coaches, including 11 for reading and five for English-language learners
  • Provide training for teachers and administrators
  • Restore budgets for textbooks, technology and school supplies
  • Bring back eliminated student activities
  • Reinforce Continuous Classroom Improvement training
  • Restore the community; since 2008, assessed housing valuations in our district have fallen by $226 million dollars For $11 per month (based on a $150,000 home), you can restore the schools and protect your property values.

The Details:

What is Prop R?

Prop R is a 49-cent tax rate increase for the Mehlville School District on the Nov. 3 ballot. Prop R stands for “restore.”

What are Mehlville’s current challenges?

Four rounds of budget cuts — totaling $58 million — since the 2004-2005 school year. The district has operated on a lean, declining budget for many years. In fact, the Center for American Progress recognized the Mehlville School District for providing the best return on investment of nearly any school district in Missouri. But the district cannot afford to make further cuts without seriously jeopardizing student education. Heading into this school year, the school board cut another $4 million in expenses, including teachers and programs.

Teacher turnover — Reductions prompted many teachers to seek employment elsewhere. In the past decade, Mehlville has eliminated 121 teachers, 14 administrators and 53 support positions. At Mehlville High School alone, the loss of 4 teachers this year has meant the elimination of 24 classes from the curriculum.

Increased poverty & diversity — Community demographics are changing — becoming more low-income and diverse. At-risk students and English as a Second Language learners require additional support services. The number of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch in Mehlville has grown in the past 5 years by about 780 kids. This represents the largest percentage increase out of 354 Missouri school districts. In one Mehlville kindergarten class of 25 kids, nine different languages are spoken. District-wide, there is 1 literacy coach for every 2,275 students. Last year, more than 120 struggling students who needed reading help didn’t get it.

Large class sizes — Many classrooms are at the state maximum, and teachers are stretched thin as they try to educate children with widely varying needs. Lack of textbooks & technology — District expenditures on textbooks and curriculum support materials decreased from $1.3 million in 2004 to $300,000 in 2015. School libraries received no new books this year, and technology upgrades largely have been eliminated from district expenses.

Deteriorating facilities — Deferred maintenance needs in the district’s 16 schools and other buildings are in excess of $55 million.

Dropping student achievement — According to performance on standardized exams, the Mehlville School District — once ranked among the top 60 school districts statewide — now ranks in the 130s.

Why is Mehlville facing a budget crisis?

Revenue has been stagnant — Total district revenue from 2009-2015 has increased only 1.7%.

  • Property tax revenue has been erratic and property values have been declining. From 2008-2015, cumulative home values in Mehlville have plummeted $226 million.
  • The last time voters approved a tax rate hike was 15 years ago — 49-cent Prop P for facilities — in 2000.
  • State revenue also has taken a hit. The Basic Formula has been underfunded since 2009-2010.  Parents As Teachers funding is down more than 50% since 2008.

Meanwhile, total district expenses are up by 10.7% over this same time period.

  • Inflationary expenses, such as the cost of food, diesel fuel (in past years), utilities and health care, are outpacing revenue.
  • The district serves about 1 million meals (5,700 per day); transports 8,000 children across 3,700 miles daily; maintains 1.8 million square feet of buildings; and educates about 10,500 students.
  • Salaries represent 64 percent of the district’s budget. However, Mehlville’s salary expenditure per student is one of the lowest in St. Louis County. Its overall per-pupil expenditure also is second lowest in St. Louis County. The district spends $3,500 less per student than the county average.

In addition to cutting teachers and programs, the district has increased fees for remaining activities. Students living less than 1 mile from school now pay $218 to ride the bus.

How specifically will Prop R help?

With community input, last year the district crafted a formalized Strategic Plan, a road map to academic success, which will guide future decision-making. Prop R will not fully fund the plan, but it will restore some of the most damaging cuts and fund priorities within the plan.

If approved, Prop R will:

  • Add 16 certified positions, such as reading coaches, interventionists and specialists, to assist struggling learners
  • Provide training for teachers and administrators
  • Restore textbook and instructional support materials, such as lab equipment and other resources, to 2004-2005 levels
  • Restore technology funds cut in spring 2015, upgrade technology and adapt libraries to technology
  • Restore school supplies and student clubs cut in spring 2015
  • Reinforce Continuous Classroom Improvement training

How much will Prop R cost?

The 49-cent increase would cost homeowners an additional $7.76 per month for a $100,000 home; $15.52 per month for a $200,000 home; or $23.28 per month for a $300,000 home.

If Prop R is approved, Mehlville’s tax rate would increase to nearly $4.23 per $100 of assessed valuation. Even with this increase, Mehlville still will have the second lowest tax rate of 22 school districts in St. Louis County. Mehlville is in the top 20 largest districts in the state, but near the bottom when it comes to spending.

Surrounding districts — such as Lindbergh, Hancock Place, Bayless and Affton — all pay higher tax rates.

What happens if Prop R does not pass?

Deeper cuts — Despite this year’s $4 million in cuts, Mehlville still faces a budget deficit. Mehlville will have to cut another $3 to $5 million next year. “Without additional revenue, the district will have to cut a similar amount next year just to break even, which would devastate the district,” said Superintendent Chris Gaines.

Impact on property values — Real-estate brokers currently estimate a $47,000 price difference between homes of equal value in the Lindbergh and Mehlville school districts. Home values are expected to further decline if the district’s financial crisis is not resolved.

A successful, thriving district is crucial to maintaining property values, preparing students to compete in a global society and attracting families and businesses to our community.