Mehlville Proposition S
The Mehlville School District’s bond issue up for vote in the April 6 election, Proposition S for “Safe Schools, Safe Kids,” is a $35 million, 12-cent no-tax-rate-increase bond issue that would fund secure vestibules at school entrances and basic upgrades to areas of Mehlville and Oakville’s schools that have long been neglected.
The district will still levy the 12 cents for operations even if the bond issue is not approved, but they will use it for piecemeal capital projects instead, funding $2.5 million a year instead of $35 million all at once. Going that route would likely take several decades to fund the same number of projects proposed through Prop S, without even addressing any of the other needs that would come up in the meantime.
But this bond issue will fund projects that simply shouldn’t wait, such as secure vestibules at every school.
The district has used the resources from 2015’s tax-rate increase Proposition R for what voters intended, restoring budget cuts and buying buses each year. With the boost from Prop R and nationally recognized leadership from Superintendent Chris Gaines, Mehlville is now on the cutting edge of new ways of teaching with the opening of an elementary school of innovation in an existing building, Mosaic Elementary, and four middle school academies that focus on personalized learning.
Gaines has made those advances with the money from Proposition R, giving the best bang for the buck on the second-lowest tax rate in St. Louis County. Prop S asks residents to continue the current tax rate to extend those same advances to facilities, where the district is falling behind.
To Gaines’ credit, he had the committee that developed the list of needs by visiting every school prune its list down from $237 million in “wants” to the $35 million list of needs in Prop S. That was a fiscally conservative move that voters can appreciate.
Nothing in this plan is extravagant. Much of it is basic maintenance that, quite frankly, should have been updated decades ago. The district will always have these schools and should take care of them.
Mehlville voters should give the district the chance to secure every one of its schools and provide basic upgrades.
The Call endorses Proposition S.