Lindbergh voters will decide $105 million LHS bond issue

Pictured above: Students walk to class during the passing period at Lindbergh High School on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Lindbergh is hoping to use money from a $105 million bond to repair and rebuild the existing high school. Photo by Erin Achenbach.

By Gloria Lloyd
News Editor
glorialloyd@callnewspapers.com

Lindbergh Schools voters will get to decide if a new Lindbergh High School is built with a $105 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue in April.

“This will serve generations of students into the future,” Board of Education President Karen Schuster said. “I’m really excited about this decision.”

The board unanimously placed the ballot measure on the April 2 ballot at a meeting Jan. 15. Although the measure was approved as Proposition S for Schools and Safety, the district was set to change the name to Proposition R due to the presence of another Proposition S on the ballot.

If it passes, a new $80 million high school will be built in the same footprint as the existing LHS, using a few existing buildings but primarily starting from scratch to build new.

“Woohoo, finally,” board member Cathy Carlock Lorenz said after the motion for the vote.

To pass, the measure would have to gain a four-sevenths majority of voters. It would keep the same debt-service property tax rate of 83 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, but extend that debt for five years from 2036 to 2041.

The conversation around a new Lindbergh High School started under former Superintendent Jim Simpson and continued under Superintendent Tony Lake, who set up a High-School Programming Committee that met for three full days at Cortex in St. Louis city to brainstorm ideas for the new high school.

“This is a big decision, and I don’t want people to think there hasn’t been a lot of discussion, we’ve had two workshops, actually three,” Lake said. “Last April is when we kind of said, ‘Hey, let’s start looking at this.’”

Board Secretary Mike Shamia noted, “Twenty-four hours of programming meetings and school visits, you’re talking six months or a year of collaborative work toward this decision.”

Construction will be done in phases with students moved around to minimize the interference from construction.

The bond issue would also include money for safety vestibules at five schools: Kennerly, Long, Crestwood, Truman and Sperreng.

The high-school project would take years to get off the ground if passed, but the vestibules could potentially be done quicker, said Executive Director of Planning and Development Karl Guyer.

But the vestibules probably couldn’t be done this summer and would likely be done in summer 2020.

A third rung of the bond issue would move the district’s maintenance and landscape shops off the high-school campus to improve safety for students, who currently go to class amid deliveries and trucks inbound with supplies to the maintenance shop.

Survey indicates support

As part of unscientific online surveys for the strategic plan, residents were asked if they would support a bond issue to address “major deficiencies in Lindbergh Schools facilities.”

About 90.9 percent of respondents said they would approve such a referendum, and 9 percent said no. Asked if they thought the community would support a referendum, 85 percent said yes and 14 percent no.

Johnston said the takeaway is the community is largely supportive but also recognizes the importance of being shown the need: “This will help keep our students and teachers safe for the next several decades.”