Facilities needs for Mehlville schools would require a future ballot measure

Town-hall meetings to kick off this week on COMPASS plan

By BURKE WASSON

While the Mehlville School District will ask voters Nov. 4 to approve a transfer of 31 cents per $100 of assessed value from the district’s debt-service fund to its operating fund, facilities needs in the district would require another ballot measure in the future.

The district’s Facilities Planning Committee identified just less than $184.5 million in long-range needs at existing facilities. Those facilities projects would be accomplished in four phases, the first of which would cost $34 million.

The first phase would provide appropriate facilities for all-day kindergarten, early childhood satellite facilities modifications, safety and security enhancements, improvements to indoor air quality, acoustic improvements, infrastructure improvements and performing-arts additions at both Mehlville and Oakville senior high schools.

Combining data with feedback solicited from employees, residents and students at “charrette” sessions in which participants developed conceptual design improvements for their school, district architect Dickinson-Hussman Architects calculated a total estimated cost for the recommended building improvements at $184,499,000.

Residents will have an opportunity beginning this week to hear these proposed long-range facilities improvements as well as the district’s goals gathered through the public-engagement program COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools — through a series of 7 p.m. town-hall meetings, the first of which were scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Washington Middle School and Thursday, Sept. 11, at Beasley Elementary School.

In June, the COMPASS Facilitating Team recommended two ballot measures to the school board — the 31-cent debt-service transfer, which now is Proposition T on the Nov. 4 ballot, and a 37-cent tax-rate increase. Prop T would generate roughly $5.6 million per year for the operating fund. The ballot measure would not in-crease Mehlville’s overall tax rate, but the transfer would extend the district’s bonded indebtedness by 15 years.

Superintendent Terry Noble has said Prop T primarily would be used to maintain the district’s operating 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 would likely be done with funds from Prop T.

Because 49 percent of Mehlville residents polled in a survey opposed a 37-cent tax-rate increase, board members decided not to pursue that increase in the Nov. 4 election.

The Facilities Planning Committee identified $39 million of proposed improvements at Oakville Senior High, $32.6 million at Mehlville Senior High, $11.7 million at Buerkle Middle, $11 million at Bierbaum Elementary, $10.6 million at Oakville Middle, $9.5 million at Trautwein Elementary, $8.8 million at Washington Middle, $8.7 million at Point Elementary, $7.6 million at Wohlwend Elementary, $7.4 million at Blades Elementary, $7.2 million at the John Cary Early Childhood Center, $6.2 million at Oakville Elementary, $5.6 million at Rogers Elementary, $4.8 million at Forder Elementary, $4.6 million at Beasley Elementary, $4.1 million at Hagemann Elementary, $3.2 million at the SCOPE — South County Opportunities for Pursuing Education — building and $1.7 million at Bernard Middle.

In addition, Dickinson-Hussman Architects identified such districtwide issues and costs as building a third high school for $43.56 million, building a nontraditional high school for $6.15 million, relocating the district’s bus facility for $2 million and building a district food-storage facility for $1.5 million.

In May 2007, the district commissioned Dickinson-Hussman Architects to assist with a long-range facilities master plan up-date of the 2000 master plan as part of the COMPASS process.

Dickinson-Hussman Architects assembled a Facilities Planning Team of educational facilities planner and retired superintendent Dan Keck along with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified interior designer Karen Johnson.

They were joined by district parent Jeff Clobes and Director of Support Services Keith Henry.

For a 10-month period, the committee used “guiding data” to make conclusions.

This data includes Noble’s attributes of “high-performing schools,” principal’s surveys, maintenance issues listed by the district Facilities Department, educational adequacy reports filled out by staff members, COMPASS consensus points, building-capacity calculations and the district’s Instructional Design Team.

In principals’ surveys, 17 of the district’s 18 schools identified quality of indoor environment as a concern. Sixteen schools identified security, 14 identified acoustics, 14 identified educational instructional space, 12 identified storage, nine identified playscapes, eight identified entrance view, eight identified vehicular/pedestrian circulation traffic, five identified vehicular issues and four identified aesthetics.

Eight of the district’s 18 schools fell below the satisfactory level of educational adequacy from a facilities standpoint, according to staff educational adequacy assessment reports. They are: Beasley Elementary, Bierbaum Elementary, Buerkle Middle, Mehlville Senior High, Oakville Senior High, Point Elementary, Trautwein Elementary and Wohlwend Elementary.

Consensus points reached at community-engagement sessions and studied by the facilities team include: Develop a technology plan including professional development, provide a safe and secure environment, improve student achievement, improve staff development, improve indoor air quality and classroom acoustics, provide additional classrooms as well as breakout space and wireless technology, investigate the creation of a district auditorium or fine-arts center, improve upon current inadequate technology equipment, integrate wireless technology and advocate smaller class sizes as well as more early childhood programs and all-day kindergarten.

Seven of the district’s 18 schools exceed their capacity, according to building-capacity calculations formed by the facilities team. Oakville Senior High is 80 percent more than capacity, Mehlville Senior is 28 percent, Buerkle Middle is 18 percent, Oakville Middle is 8 percent, Oakville Elementary is 5 percent, Point Elementary is 5 percent and Bierbaum Elementary is 2 percent.

But in a study of the district’s demographics performed last October by regional demographic statistician Charles Kofron, district enrollment is expected to drop roughly 1,800 students — or 16 percent — from its current enrollment of 11,088 students to an estimated 9,275 students by the 2018-2019 school year.