EDITORIAL: Sobering view of Mehlville painted by superintendent

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

We believe the defeat of Proposition R for Restore on Tuesday, Nov. 3, would be an unmitigated disaster for not just the Mehlville School District, but the entire community.

That’s why the Call unequivocally endorsed the 49-cent tax-rate increase in our Aug. 27 issue. Given Superintendent Chris Gaines’ sobering State of the District address last week, we believe it’s even more imperative for voters to approve Prop R. In his speech, Dr. Gaines said the school district is declining due to a lack of resources.

“The State of the District is struggling,” he said. “Financially, we’re struggling, and it’s beginning to have an impact on student achievement and what we’re able to offer our kids.”

For example, the district does not have enough reading coaches, and 121 children on waiting lists for reading help last year did not receive it.

“They were left behind,” said Dr. Gaines, who began as superintendent here on July 1.

Quite frankly, that’s appalling. We don’t know how much more clearly Mehlville’s dire financial situation can be communicated.

Unfortunately, some Prop R opponents believe that they have the solution to a tax-rate increase.

In a letter to the editor today, Oakville resident Jane Conder proposes a temporary 49-cent tax-rate increase that she contends would retire the district’s Prop P debt over three years. During those three years, salaries would be frozen and parents would fund the cost of non-academic activities, including sports.

While Conder should be applauded for proposing an alternative, the fact of the matter is such a plan is flawed and would never work for several reasons, but primarily because employee salaries essentially would be frozen for four years — including this year’s pay freeze.

As the Call reported in June, the number of teachers who left Mehlville more than doubled compared to previous years. In fact, roughly 60 teachers left Mehlville for higher-paying jobs in other districts, which Dr. Gaines termed an “exodus.”

We can only imagine the number of Mehlville teachers who would seek employment in other districts if salaries were to be frozen for another three years. Given that alone, we would term such an alternative impractical, unworkable and inane.

As Dr. Gaines noted, Prop R offers the district “hope and a path forward.”

We once again emphatically urge Mehlville voters to approve Prop R.