School districts in west and south St. Louis County are seeking voter approval to make significant facility upgrades that officials say will ease overcrowding and improve security.
There are four districts with funding propositions on the April 2 municipal election ballot. Lindbergh, Webster Groves and Bayless are all proposing no-tax-rate-increase bonds. Clayton is asking voters to approve a 56 cent property-tax increase.
Bond amounts range from $7.3 million in Bayless to $105 million in Lindbergh. Clayton’s tax increase would generate an additional $7.3 million in revenue annually.
Student populations in near-west and south county schools have grown in recent years. In addition, school leaders say buildings are in need of significant maintenance and renovations to make campuses safer.
A tax increase from Clayton residents will allow the district to meet budget needs, according to officials. Clayton has the highest per-student spending ratio in the county.
Here’s a breakdown of the different ballot measures:
The south St. Louis County district is asking for approval to take out a $105 million bond. The district wants to improve security at entrances to five elementary and middle schools by adding a “double vestibule” that requires visitors to be buzzed in twice before gaining access.
But a majority of the money will be to change the high school campus on Lindbergh Boulevard. A new three-story building with flexible classrooms would be built that will connect the high school’s current buildings.
When the new building is finished, two of the current four buildings on the 70-year-old campus will be demolished. That will allow for a single main entrance and prevent kids from having to walk across roads and parking lots to get to classes.
Construction would be completed, at the earliest, for the 2023 school year.
Students at some Webster Groves elementary schools are attending class in temporary classrooms because of overcrowding. In order to reduce the strain on its buildings, school leaders want to spend $22 million on reconfiguring grade levels.
The district will add a new wing onto Hixson Middle School to bring sixth-graders over from Steger Sixth-Grade Center. Steger will then be converted to an elementary school to reduce strain on other elementary schools.
Bayless is asking for $7.3 million to ease crowding at its junior high and high school. The district will put an addition onto its junior high school by constructing 18 classrooms, a cafeteria and library. Currently, junior high students use the high school’s library and cafeteria.
The renovations will allow students to eat lunch later in the day, rather than some having lunch period at 10 a.m., and cut down on travel between the two schools.
Clayton school officials say they need to raise more than $5 million to meet spending needs in coming academic years. Of that, $2 million will be used to replenish the reserve fund and pay for maintenance updates. Proposition E would increase property taxes 56 cents per $100 of valuation and approve an 8 cent waiver on sales tax.
Voters in Clayton last approved a tax increase in 2003. Without another increase, the district says it’ll face a $4.8 million funding gap by 2020.
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