First Mehlville board meeting ‘an eye-opener’ for longtime resident

To the editor:

I recently attended my first Mehlville school board meeting — it was an eye-opener.

I attended to be a voice for the elderly in the district. I spoke for about three minutes on the general struggles that seniors encounter — nursing homes; rising utility and food costs; household and health insurance; Medicare and supplemental medical insurance; prescription medications and, for some, transportation costs.

My words definitely fell on deaf ears. As I was speaking, I noticed a few sighs from the board.

They seemed to have zero compassion for the plight of the majority of the district residents. One of the members, Jean Pretto, went so far as to mention she was a senior also and if seniors couldn’t afford to live in the district they should move to another school district. At that time, there were claps from some of the attendees.

I have lived in this district for 24 years and paid taxes all that time, and for a school board member to make such a callous statement was insensitive and heartless. They need the public to vote for a tax-rate-increase proposition, but care nothing about the public’s opinions.

The majority of the meeting, at least two hours, encompassed how the board would spend all the money the district will acquire after the issue passes, mostly reinstating all the services that were recently cut and adding more perks to the budget.

There was no mention of the lingering tax from an old proposition that is not expected to be retired until 2029.

What would happen if the proposition failed? There was not a bit of discussion about that scenario. Only one board member, Lori Trakas, suggested alternatives.

A resident suggested that rather than an increase in the operating levy, the board should propose a levy for the sole and temporary purpose of accelerating the payoff of our debt.

A 49-cent levy for that purpose would pay off our debt in a little over three years and consequently free up $9 million a year for operating expenses. No comment or discussion came from the board on that suggestion.

In the past, the district has not always been forthright with the public, and the recent view I got from this board shows me that nothing has changed. The majority of the residents in this district are seniors, and I feel the elderly and all residents deserve much more respect.