Lindbergh voters will consider $34 million bond issue in April

Bond issue also would fund critical needs at high school

By Mike Anthony

Lindbergh Schools voters will consider a $34 million bond issue to fund the construction of a new elementary school and improvements at Lindbergh High School when they go to the polls Tuesday, April 8.

The Board of Education voted 6-0 last week to place the bond issue, called Proposition G, on the ballot. Board Treasurer Kara Gotsch was absent from the Jan. 16 special meeting.

As proposed, Prop G — for Growth — would increase the district’s debt-service tax rate by 21 cents, to 68.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from 47.3 cents. A four-sevenths majority — 57.14 percent — is required for passage of the measure.

If approved, bonds totaling $34,035,000 would be issued by the district. A total of $23.9 million of the bond proceeds would fund the construction of a 650-student elementary school on the nearly 10-acre Dressel School site at 10255 Musick Road.

The district closed on the $1.94 million purchase of the property in July 2011.

District officials also propose to use $3 million of the bond proceeds to fund some critical needs at Lindbergh High School, including doubling the size of the cafeteria, creating two science classrooms from existing classrooms, converting a record-storage room into two new classrooms, modernizing the library and replacing the wood floor and bleachers in Gymnasium 3.

As proposed, the building projects would have $3 million in contingency.

Proceeds from the bond issue also would be used to retire roughly $3.5 million of debt incurred when the district purchased the Dressel site and property adjacent to Long Elementary School. To fund the purchases, the Board of Education approved the issuance of certificates of participation, or COPs, totaling nearly $3.5 million. The district currently spends $300,000 per year in operational funds to pay that debt.

If Prop G is approved by voters, the COPs would be retired with the remaining debt rolled into the bond issue and paid by the debt-service fund, Chief Financial Officer Charles Triplett told the board.

“… Now if we put that into this bond issue, then we could pay it off with bonds, and right now to pay off those two certificates, we’re using about $300,000 per year of operations revenue to do that,” he explained. “So that money then would become available for us to help on the other side of growth, which is the personnel, the supply side, not the building brick-and-mortar side …”

Approval of Prop G would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $39.90 per year, Triplett said. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 would pay an additional $119.70 per year.

The board’s action came after representatives of the District Growth Committee presented the panel’s report to the school board Jan. 14. The committee recommended a sixth elementary school be constructed on the Dressel School site to address the district’s aggressive enrollment growth.

Superintendent Jim Simpson praised the District Growth Committee’s report.

“… We were very pleased with the growth committee’s report. We thought they did an outstanding job. They really drilled down to the essential components of what was needed to handle the growth …,” he said Jan. 16. “We give them a ton of appreciation for their hard work. So we support every aspect of their report …”

The only way to handle the enrollment surge is more classrooms, Simpson said.

“… So their recommendation for a sixth elementary (school) is right on target,” he said. “The district will have to have a sixth elementary as soon as possible or we will have over-capacity buildings and large class sizes, one thing our community has never really accepted …”

From 2007-2008 to 2012-2013, the district’s residential enrollment increased by 569 students. Lindbergh’s official enrollment for the current school year is 6,115 students, which exceeded the district’s projections by 50 students.

For the next five years, the district is prepared to address the enrollment growth at Lindbergh High School and the district’s two middle schools — Sperreng and Truman. But the growth is creating a problem at the district’s elementary schools.

Four elementary schools — Sappington, Concord, Long and Crestwood — are designed for 500 students each. But three have exceeded their capacity — Sappington with 621 students, Concord with 577 students and Long with 551 students. Crestwood is nearing capacity with 482 students, while Kennerly, designed for 450 students, exceeds capacity with 462 students.

From 2013 to 2018, district officials project residential enrollment will increase by 464 students, not including an estimated 120 additional students from new subdivisions being constructed.

Until a new school is constructed, Simpson said, “We’re going to be under stress. The stress is already pretty heavy in some buildings.”

Before the vote was taken to place Prop G on the ballot, board member Vicki Englund said, “… There have been a lot of other school districts in our community that have gotten to this stage of the game, have found the needs for their district and have created such a huge list of items that it was very difficult for the public to kind of see the point. You know, it was more of, ‘Well, we need a little of this. We need a little of that. Oh, by the way, we forget to tell you about this.’

“And it was just this kind of behemoth of a list of items that the school district needs, and as a result, many times, if not all of them, those propositions failed. I mean, what Lindbergh has always done, and what this proposal does, is it says exactly what our needs are. It says why we need them, and there’s nothing that I can see that’s extra or frivolous. It’s not a huge laundry list of items …”