South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Mehlville resident believes school district has broken public trust

To the editor:

There are rumblings on the horizon that the Mehlville School District is trying to soften up taxpayers for an increase in taxes.

I’ve seen an article about the debt of the district and another that included a table to show just how low our tax rate is relative to other local school districts. Keep in mind that the only thing liberals know how to do is raise taxes. Fiscal responsibility is not part of their vocabulary. And the Call reported that district officials say there is no fat to cut from the budget.

I have been a resident of the district for more than 30 years and in that time the school district has demonstrated poor money management. There was the disastrous ballot issue to raise taxes by 97 cents to pay for books and tutors, among other things. It was defeated. Then a member of the school board was reported to have asked why they got a bill for nearly $45,000 to pay the cost of the election. How many books and tutors could that money pay for?

More recently, the district added a new auditorium at the high school and tennis courts at Bernard Middle School. Last I looked, there is a tennis court at Oakville High School, not that far away.

That’s typical of government and quasi-government entities that depend on taxing the public for their funding. The money just seems to be lying around, not belonging to anyone. “We seem to have money left over in the budget, how can we waste it?”

Heaven forbid that reducing existing debt should have any priority.

Perhaps if the board and administrators operated like a commercial business or had to go out on street corners with cups to ask for money to fund the budget, there would be wiser use of the money they get.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing is easier than spending the public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody.”

Before trying to fleece taxpayers for more money to waste, it is time for the district to seriously demonstrate fiscal responsibility, especially given reports that the United States spends more per capita on education and the result is more poorly educated students. Throwing more money at a problem does not solve the problem, as the government proves every day.

While it may be unfair to paint the district with the same broad brush, it can do better.

It is time to stop talking about quantity — graduation rates — and more about quality — how well students are educated. The district has broken the public trust. Now is the time to start rebuilding that trust.

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