Knost unveils new plans for auditorium, discusses full-day kindergarten

Staff Report

The Mehlville Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve plans for a nearly $6 million auditorium at the Mehlville Senior High School campus.

Superintendent Eric Knost said his target cost is around $5.8 million, with the remaining amount going toward Witzel Learning Center renovations.

Knost originally proposed the auditorium be constructed in a renovated portion of Witzel Learning Center. However, Knost said he came to realize that using Witzel would require more demolition of the building than renovation, which he said compromised the integrity of his initial plan.

The approved plans will have the auditorium attached off the north side of Mehlville Senior High School. The auditorium will have about 525 seats, which Knost said is larger than auditoriums in Rockwood and Parkway school districts.

As proposed, the auditorium would be funded by utilizing savings realized through the refunding of certificates of participation, or COPs, issued for the district’s Proposition P districtwide building improvement program that was approved by voters in November 2000. No additional funds would be required from the community at this time, according to Knost.

COPs issued in 2001 by the district were refunded in 2010 with a savings of roughly $2.2 million over 10 years and COPs issued in 2002 were refunded last year with a long-term savings of about $1.1 million.

A third refunding with a projected savings of about $2.6 million is anticipated for this spring, according to Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch. All told, the district is anticipating a total savings of nearly $6 million from the three refundings.

Knost also gave an overview of his plans for tuition-free, full-day kindergarten. He would like to implement tuition-free, full-day kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year. Knost said using the current number of children enrolled in both full- and half-day kindergarten — hypothetically placing them all in full-day kindergarten — only two schools, Oakville and Trautwein elementary schools, would not be able to house the amount of students currently enrolled.

The board did not discuss Knost’s proposal in detail due to the lateness of the hour.

Full coverage of the Board of Education meeting will be featured in next week’s print edition of the Call.