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

Vast majority of residents want to support Mehlville

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

We firmly believe the vast majority of Mehlville School District residents want to support their schools.

Voters approved Proposition T in 1998, Proposition P in 2000 and Proposition T in 2008. The first two measures were tax-rate increases, while Prop T 2008 extended the district’s bond debt by 15 years.

But over the years, some administrators and past Boards of Education have helped erode the community’s confidence in the district. Some of those past mistakes include painting a distorted picture of the district’s finances, misleading the public after a successful ballot measure was approved by voters and overreaching by placing exorbitant tax-rate increases that had no chance of success before voters.

We believe Mehlville residents will respond positively if they are shown a true need for the school district.

Voters approved Proposition P, a 49-cent tax-rate increase designed to fund a $68.4 million bond issue for a districtwide improvement program, in November 2000.

Certainly the building improvement program was a success, providing the district with modern facilities for years to come. But Prop P also became a debacle when the public learned about the millions of dollars in cost overruns — and district officials’ efforts to conceal the actual cost of the program from taxpayers.

As for overreaching, we have the fiascos of February 2006 and November 2010 when the Board of Education placed tax-rate increases on the ballot that were doomed to failure from the get-go.

An out-of-touch board voted to place a 97-cent tax-rate increase on the February 2006 ballot. Needless to say, voters trounced the measure.

As a result, board members who voted to place Prop A on the ballot either were ousted by voters or wisely decided not to seek re-election.

Ironically, some of the new board members swept into office in the wake of the crushing defeat of Prop A just a few short years later voted to place an equally unrealistic 88-cent tax-rate increase on the November 2010 ballot. Prop C was clobbered.

Like we said, we believe the vast majority of Mehlville residents want to support their schools. But they must be convinced of the need and be presented with a reasonable proposition.

Despite the assertions of some former board members, Mehlville can never afford a loss at the polls.

Any defeat at the polls will set the district back years.

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