Extensive discussion precedes vote to place Proposition P on ballot

Sixth in a series

By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

Mehlville Board of Education members had an extensive discussion before voting Aug. 15, 2000, to place a nearly $68.4 million bond issue before voters to fund a districtwide building improvement program.

That discussion is the focus of this installment of the Call’s review of the history of the project that ultimately became the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program.

Voters in November 2000 approved Prop-osition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase. How-ever, a final budget revision approved last month raises the Proposition P budget to $89,137,440 — a roughly 30.3 percent in-crease — more than $20.7 million over the nearly $68.4 million building improvement program envisioned in 2000.

The sixth installment of the Proposition P chronology, based on Mehlville documentation and published accounts in the Call, picks up on Aug. 15, 2000, when the board voted 6-1 to place Proposition P on the ballot. Board member Matthew Chellis was opposed. The board first had voted 6-1 — with Chellis opposed — to accept a Phase I Facilities Master Plan recommended by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Facilities with two modifications suggested by Superintendent John Cary.

The board agreed to delete a recommendation to relocate the district’s bus facility that would have cost $1.4 million. The board also accepted Cary’s recommendation regarding the Witzel Learning Center.

The CACF had recommended $1.78 million in various improvements at the Witzel Learning Center, including electrical up-grades, HVAC work, window and door re-placement, roof repairs and new phones and intercoms. However, Cary recommended no improvements be made at the center, but that spaces currently utilized by the high school be relocated to a new high school addition at a cost of $754,000.

Cary’s recommendation also called for the building to be demolished in a later phase.

The CACF’s recommendation called for a bond issue totaling $70,222,224. With the modifications recommended by Cary, the bond issue will total $68,398,224.

Before voting to accept the Phase I Master Facilities Plan, board President Chuck Van Gronigen asked if the 49 cents might be reduced if the amount of the proposed bond issue was reduced.

“Mr. Cary and Ms. Amelia Bond, representing A.G. Edwards & Sons, both indicated they attempted to keep the increase un-der 50 cents and that the 49 cents cut it very close,” meeting minutes stated. “They both recommended retaining the 49 cents … and, in time, making a decision as to whether there were surplus funds to pay bonds early. Another option, Ms. Bond said, was not levying the full 49 cents approved if it turned out to be more than needed.”

Board member David Gralike “suggested that the board reach a decision on the amount of the proposal before discussing ballot language,” the minutes stated.

Gralike made a motion to accept the Fa-cilities Master Plan as originally presented by the CACF, but his motion died for lack of a second. The board then voted to ac-cept the plan with Cary’s modifications.

The chronology continues next week.