Canvassing kickoff for Mehlville’s Prop T attracts about 250 volunteers

Volunteers plan to continue canvassing Oct. 25-26, Nov. 1

By BURKE WASSON

Roughly 250 Mehlville School District residents banded together Saturday morning to spread the word about a Nov. 4 ballot measure that would enhance the district’s operating fund by transferring revenue from the debt-service fund.

If approved, Proposition T would transfer 31 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from the district’s debt-service fund into the operating budget. This would result in an additional $5.6 million annually going into the operating fund. While Prop T would not result in a tax-rate increase, it would extend the district’s bonded indebtedness by 15 years to end in 2029.

Speaking Saturday morning at Oakville Senior High School during a rally to kick off canvassing efforts in support of Prop T, Superintendent Terry Noble emphasized that approval of the ballot measure would put the district on the path to better performance.

“Today is the first step in our school district rising to a level of a high-performing school district,” Noble said. “That’s our vision. And it takes all of us together to make that happen.

“… School districts like ours, we don’t make enough progress for our kids unless you really have that sense of urgency. And that sense of urgency means that it’s really like a declaration of war,” he added.

With that in mind, a group of district residents in support of Prop T launched its canvassing push to educate voters on the ballot measure’s merits.

While Saturday marked the beginning of that Prop T drive, the group Together for T will continue canvassing:

• From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 25.

Volunteers will meet at Bernard Middle School, 1054 Forder Road.

• From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26.

Volunteers will meet at Bernard Middle School.

• From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 1.

Volunteers will meet at Bernard Middle School.

Residents who would like more information about Proposition T or who wish to volunteer can call (314) 315-2650, send an e-mail to propositiont@gmail.com or visit

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Noble told volunteers that it is their job to inform voters — not persuade them.

“Your job is not going to be to try to convince them or change their opinions,” he said. “Just share information with them.

“And I’ve found in this school district when we do that, people are very supportive. The challenge is getting the word out.”

The groundwork for Proposition T was laid in 2007 when the district began its public-engagement program, COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools.

In June, the COMPASS Facilitating Team recommended two ballot measures for this November to the school board — a transfer of 31 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from the debt-service fund to the operating fund — which has become Prop T — and a 37-cent tax-rate increase.

After viewing survey results of 400 residents compiled in July by consultant UNICOM•ARC, the board voted to place Prop T on the ballot as 64.8 percent of respondents said they would favor it.

At the same time, 59 percent of those 400 participants opposed restoring the district’s tax rate to its 2006 level by increasing the overall tax rate by 37 cents.

So instead of using a tax-rate increase to add extensive services to the school district, Prop T primarily would be used to maintain the district’s budget.

Funding the teachers’ salary schedule — which was frozen for the current school year — along with addressing technology needs and reinstating supply and textbook budgets that were cut this year also likely would be done with funds from Prop T.

Noble has said that if Prop T fails, the district might have to cut its staffing levels.

Together For T Chairman Jeff Clobes, a longtime district volunteer, had served as co-chair of the district’s Facilities Planning Team, which formulated a long-range facilities master plan as part of COMPASS.

Clobes said at Saturday’s rally that be-cause his family has received so much as a district parent, he feels the need “to give back” to Mehlville and encourages other families to do as well through Prop T.

“The reason I decided to chair this campaign is this district has given my family a lot just in the few short years that we’ve been involved in the district,” Clobes said. “And I couldn’t think of a better way to give back than to take an active role in seeing that Mr. Noble’s future vision starts with this particular ballot issue.

“Like he said, it carries on over the next 10 to 15 years. The long-range plan of the district is to really move us into that high-performing status. And that starts with everybody here this morning going out and supporting our effort and getting folks out in the community to support our effort as well.”