Mehlville’s 25-percent tax-rate increase not affordable to many residents

To the editor:

In the Oct. 7 Call, the Restore the Pride committee took out a full-page ad to illustrate where the Mehlville School District stands in relation to 22 other districts in per-student spending.

OK, let’s look at the facts. They say our students can’t compete with districts that spend thousands more per pupil. Really?

Out of the 20 districts that spend “thousands” more than Mehlville only 10 achieve higher ACT composite scores.

Only 10 out of the top 20 districts have a higher percentage of students taking the ACT exam. Twelve out of the top 20 have a higher graduation rate. Clayton is at the top of the spending list.

They say our community can’t attract families and business if we don’t invest in education. Right. Why did Boeing move its headquarters to Chicago? Why did the Chrysler and Ford plants close?

I am sure it was because of the poor school district they were in. The Clayton School District is so bad Brown Shoe canceled a major building project.

Businesses do not come to districts just because of the schools. In these times, they determine if they can afford it or they go to the area that has the biggest handout, tax-increment financing moneys or tax credits.

And guess who gets to make up that difference? You got it, you the taxpayer.

We can’t protect the investment we’ve made in our homes if the quality of our schools fall behind, they say. I don’t know about you, but having lived in the district for 26 years I have never had the value of my home depreciate with the exception of the past year.

And that has nothing to do with the school district, but is a reflection of the current state of the economy. People don’t have jobs, haven’t had a raise — with the exception of the administrative staff at Mehlville — or have been asked to take extended time off without pay. So they can’t move even if they wanted. This is the exact point of why it is not a good time to be raising taxes. The 25-percent Prop C increase is not affordable to many residents.

How about the line: If we don’t pay competitive salaries, they will leave for other, better-paying districts. Mehlville’s average years of professional service is 12.2 years. The average for the 22 districts is 12.4 years. So there does not appear to be a lot of moving around. Hmm?

Put 2,500 people to work on school improvement projects? This is completely subjective. I do believe it is hard to approve a 25-percent increase in cost — tax — when you take an 8-percent reduction in income or a freeze in wages — recent trade agreements. The scare tactics just keep on rolling on. But if it is all about restoring the pride, remember with pride comes respect and I do not recall the school board having the latter in regard to all the people who pay their taxes to the district every December when it voted to give the superintendent a $44,000 raise in March.

So vote “no” to the 25-percent tax-rate increase on Nov. 2.

Greg Frigerio


Editor’s note: Greg Frigerio serves as treasurer of the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, a group opposing the Mehlville School District’s Prop C.