Mehlville Proposition S facility updates will begin ‘in earnest’ this winter

Buffaloes+along+Lemay+Ferry+Road%3F+Inflatable+turkeys+along+Telegraph%3F+Supporters+of+the+Mehlville+School+District%E2%80%99s+Proposition+S+bond+issue+donned+eye-catching+costumes+at+the+March+13+%E2%80%98donut+drive-thru%E2%80%99+at+Mehlville+High+that+featured+MHS+students%2C+above%2C+with+junior+Emma+Maxwell+as+the+Bierbaum+Buffalo+mascot.+Similar+sign+rallies+were+also+held+in+Oakville.+Another+%E2%80%98donut+drive-thru%E2%80%99+to+rally+for+Prop+S+was+set+at+the+same+schools+Saturday%2C+April+3.+

Photo by Erin Achenbach

Buffaloes along Lemay Ferry Road? Inflatable turkeys along Telegraph? Supporters of the Mehlville School District’s Proposition S bond issue donned eye-catching costumes at the March 13 ‘donut drive-thru’ at Mehlville High that featured MHS students, above, with junior Emma Maxwell as the Bierbaum Buffalo mascot. Similar sign rallies were also held in Oakville. Another ‘donut drive-thru’ to rally for Prop S was set at the same schools Saturday, April 3.

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

Work is underway in the Mehlville School District on projects funded by Proposition S, the $35 million no-tax-rate-increase bond measure being used to fund facility and security enhancements across the district. 

“We’ve got quite a bit going on with Prop S,” Superintendent Chris Gaines said in the first Prop S update of the 2021-2022 school year at the Board of Education meeting Sept. 16. 

More than 80 percent of voters approved Prop S, for “Safe Schools, Safe Kids,” in April. The money is being used to fund the installation of secure entry vestibules at all of the district’s 18 schools, as well as to address facility needs identified by the district’s Facilities Steering Committee during an 18-month review of all the district’s buildings. 

Due to lower interest rates and a bond premium required as part of the negotiated bond sale conducted by financial adviser L.J. Hart, the bond will actually fund $38 million in projects. 

Over the summer, HVAC units were replaced at Fordor Elementary, and work began on Oakville High School’s baseball and softball fields, which is scheduled to be completed by Halloween. 

The district also got recent approvals from the Mehlville Fire Protection District for construction work at Oakville Elementary and Rogers Elementary and is hoping for approval from St. Louis County by the end of September. 

“As we get into the winter, we’re going to start seeing Prop S bids coming,” Gaines said. 

The next bid package for work at Bernard Middle, Oakville Elementary and Oakville High School will go out to bid in January, with work expected to begin in February. Blades Elementary was originally going to be a part of the same bid package, but work at the school has proven to be complicated. Point and Rogers Elementary will also go out to bid in December. 

The transporation building had been scheduled to go out to bid in December but will not go out to bid until February 2023 instead.

To date, the district has paid about $1.36 million in bills related to Prop S expenditures and has a little over $36 million remaining. 

“We’ll have a lot of bills this coming spring,” said Gaines. “Our estimates for the projects were a little over $32 million, so we asked for $35 million so that we would have that cushion, have that little extra contingency because we’re doing so much renovation.” 

The district hopes to have all the projects completed by the start of the 2024-2025 school year. 

“It’s really been 20 years since there’s been significant construction across the district so we’re not used to it. If you watch any of those home improvement shows … where are the people when renovating their house? Literally not there. But we’re still going to have to have school,” Gaines said. “We’ll really start getting into work in earnest in January, February, March and into the spring and summer.”