Mehlville different district than it was one year ago

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

What a difference a year can make.

One year ago, teachers were leaving the Mehlville School District in droves, employee morale was low and the district’s future looked somewhat bleak.

One year later, Mehlville’s future has never looked brighter. Just consider a new teacher pay plan that was approved last week by the Board of Education with a unanimous vote.

Teachers approved the new pay plan, which increases starting and ending salaries, with a 90-percent vote.

In fact, morale is higher than in years, negotiations were the smoothest they’ve been in recent memory and the teachers’ vote in favor of the new one-year contract came with the highest approval in years, Mehlville High School teacher Ernie Perrica told the Call’s Gloria Lloyd.

Perrica, who served as the chief negotiator for the Mehlville National Education Association, or MNEA, said teachers “overall are very happy” right now. That bears out in the number of teachers leaving the district compared to last year.

Last year, roughly 55 teachers resigned from Mehlville, and many of those sought work in districts where salaries are higher, including Lindbergh, Rockwood and even smaller districts like Hancock Place.

The number of teachers resigning more than doubled compared to past years. And who could blame them, as all employee salaries were frozen for the 2015-2016 school year.

This year, 24 teachers have resigned from Mehlville, including three who resigned during the first half of the year, according to Executive Director of Human Resources Mark Catalana.

That’s quite a difference, but Mehlville is a completely different district than it was a mere year ago.

Since then, the district has experienced an unprecedented surge in positive momentum, culminating with voter approval of back-to-back ballot measures — Proposition R, a 49-cent tax-rate increase, in November and Proposition A, a 4-cent, a no-tax-rate-increase tax transfer, in April.

Both of these measures are game-changers for Mehlville, which is becoming the talk of the state on how to do things right. It’s amazing how, in such a short time, the Mehlville School District has been able to effectuate such a remarkable turnaround.

That turnaround is the result of the community, teachers, board members and administrators working toward a common goal — making Mehlville a destination school district.

What a difference a year makes.