In discussing Mehlville’s finances, panel urges all to focus on facts

To the editor:

The financial condition of the Mehlville School District has been a popular topic at recent Board of Education meetings, but it is also of great importance to the district’s Finance Committee.

The role of the Finance Committee is to provide information and guidance to the board and to serve as a liaison to the Mehlville community on matters of financial significance.

The committee is comprised of district residents with financial backgrounds who are committed to helping the district maintain a solid financial outlook, so we wanted to highlight some key points and dispel some myths regarding the district’s finances.

Based on fiscal 2013 data, the average operating reserve for districts statewide was 36 percent, and in St. Louis County, the average was 27 percent with none lower than 13 percent. Mehlville entered the school year with a 22-percent reserve that will be down to 17 percent by the end of this school year and could be down to 8 percent the following year.

This year, the amount of the district’s revenue that comes from the local property tax levy is just 0.7 percent higher than six years ago and is even expected to be less than two years ago. In that same time period, district expenses have grown 11 percent, comparable to the cumulative inflation rate of around 10 percent.

Challenging times are facing the district and the school board will be faced with some tough decisions, but when evaluating and discussing the issues, it is important for everyone involved to focus on the facts and engage in informed dialogue.