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Wentzville School District Voters to Consider Prop 3

Levy would fund expansion of schools to accommodate growth.

On April 5, voters in the have the opportunity to take another look at an issue first placed before them last fall.

The district is asking voters to approve Proposition 3, a 30-cent tax levy. The funds generated by the levy would be used to construct additional classroom space. 

The passage of issue would raise an estimated $60 million for the construction of new facilities. Superintendent Dr. Terry Adams recommended putting a sunset clause or expiration date on the tax.

"Once the debt is retired we can and should eliminate the requested levy," Adams said. 

The initiative first appeared on the . 

In the November election, Prop 3 failed by a margin of 1,054 votes—12,318 No votes to 11,264 Yes votes, according to the St. Charles Election Commission. 

School officials said the district is growing by leaps and bounds and the current facilities at the middle school and high school level won't be able to contain the number of children in the primary grades. 

Adams, in presentations to local groups, including the ,said that the levy is needed to continue programs like full-day kindergarten.

"We've had 121-percent growth between 2000 and 2010," Adams said. "We are the fastest growing district in the state."

There are now 71,390 residents living within the boundaries of the Wentzville R-IV District, up 39,048 over the count from the 2000 census. The City of alone grew 322 percent, according to .

The Wentzville R-IV School District covers all or part of the cities of Wentzville, Lake Saint Louis, O'Fallon, Foristell and Dardenne Prairie. All five areas saw population explosions over the past 10 years. 

There are nearly 13,000 students enrolled in Wentzville schools, and according to Adams, that number is growing by an average of 650 students each year.

"There are 12,631 students in the district now; by the beginning of the 2011-12 school year that number will be 13,196," Adams said. "We will reach 16,000 students in the near future."

Adams said the younger classes are getting bigger and bigger.

"The kindergarten, first and second grades are our largest classes," he said.

The funds would be used to add some additional classrooms at the elementary level, several in middle school and would fund the construction of a new high school.

According to Matt Deichmann, the district's director of community relations, the district has identified a general area for the high school and will be ready to begin work immediately if the levy passes.

"We have been working on this for a long time," he said. "We are ready to hit the ground running if the voters approve the funding."

Prop 3 Projects

The following is a list of projects that will be funded if Prop 3 passes on April 5. Also included is an estimated completion date.

  • Eight new classrooms at , fall 2012
  • Eight new classrooms at , fall 2012
  • Eight new classrooms at , fall 2012
  • Eight new classrooms at Lakeview Elementary, fall 2012
  • Eight new classrooms at Discovery Ridge Elementary, fall 2012
  • Four new classrooms at Crossroads Elementary, fall 2012
  • Four new classrooms at , fall 2012
  • Twenty classrooms at , fall 2012
  • Four classrooms at , fall 2012
  • A new high school, fall 2013

Adams said the district would have to consider reconfiguring rooms if Prop 3 does not pass. 

"We will have to take offices and use them as reading rooms or rooms for art and music," he said. "We have seven traveling teachers now. That number could be 40 by 2014."  

Adams said the district has 11 modular classrooms now to accommodate the number of students currently enrolled. The use of modulars would increase as enrollment goes up and Prop 3 doesn't pass, Adams said.

"These will cost $150,000 each in 2012," Adams told the Chamber recently. "That money comes directly from our operating fund, which impacts other spending."

Full-day kindergarten also might be eliminated if classroom space became a high premium. Class sizes would likely increase, which is in direct opposition to the district's Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP).

"We are out of space," Adams said. "The children are here, and we believe that today's fifth graders will become next year's sixth graders, so we need to find a way to house them." 

The Wentzville School District has been given high marks by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for providing quality education to its students. 

The district was named one of DESE's Distinction in Performance districts for 2010-11.

What will it cost me?

The district's current tax levy is $4.58 per $100 of assessed valuation. Proposition 3, if approved, would bring that to $4.88 per $100.

The elementary school expansions, which will add classrooms onto existing school facilities, are estimated at around $14.4 million.

Expansion at the two middle schools is estimated at $9.4 million and a new high school facility is in the range of $36-40 million. 

The new high school will be able to house between 1,000 and 1,200 students and will have all the amenities and have, with the exception of a second gym and auditorium.

Home Value Cost Per Month Cost Per Year

$100,000

$4.75 $57

$150,000

$7.13 $85.50 $200,000 $9.50

$114

$250,000 $11.46 $137.50 $300,000 $14.25 $171

There has been little public questioning of the need for additional classrooms. Opposition to Prop 3 has come from those against any new taxation and those that believe that the district can find the funds through tighter fiscal control of current funds.

R-IV Board member Dale Schaper also expressed concern about paying off previous bond issues.

How the Candidates Feel

There are three seats open on the school board. Each candidate was asked by the Wentzville Patch for their opinion on Proposition 3. The candidates are listed as they will appear on the April 5 ballot.

Name Position  Prop 3

Heather Rieter

Challenger For Michael Cecil Incumbent For Lelain Wayne "Pete" Self Challenger
Terry Ratcliff Incumbent For Angela Mutert Challenger
Sandy Kay Garber Challenger Against Courtney Tieman Challenger Charles MacNab Challenger Against

Self, Mutert and Tieman all expressed concern with a tax issue but did not expressly come out against it to the Wentzville Patch.

Maggie Rotermund March 30, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Jared, To add to Matt's reference. All information on every school district in the state is available to the public on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's web site — http://dese.mo.gov/
Cathy Klepser March 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM
As a parent of a child in the Wentzville School District, as a home owner for 17 years, and as a supportive citizen of our community, I encourage everyone to vote YES for Prop 3 next Tuesday. Prop 3 is a small investment in the future of our children, our property values, and the communities we are so proud of and fortunate to call home. Previous outside publications have described the many attributes our communities have to offer. Our children and our schools are the foundations and the springboards to our thriving communities and continued prosperity. I feel blessed to live in the Wentzville School District and encourage everyone to join me in supporting the beautiful area we live in by voting YES for Prop 3 on April 5th. Cathy
Donna Wilmes March 31, 2011 at 02:02 AM
Is it just me or does it seem a little strange to others that all the people that Pat Hacker says are supporting the Prop 3 in your letter are not eligable to vote on it, so I am sure that they would support it. It is not costing them any more money, just US!
Jared England March 31, 2011 at 01:36 PM
I have been searching http://dese.mo.gov/ for the information you listed, Matt. The site is hard to navigate. What I have found that the Wentzville School District's Final Adequate Yearly Progress states that the district is in continued corrective action for having not met proficiency for communication arts and mathmatics. Since 2003, the district has only met proficiency for mathmatics one time, and met proficiency for communication arts zero times. (http://www.dese.mo.gov/planning/profile/apr/ayp092089.html) Matt, if you want to reference your data, this is the way to do it. I have not been able to find one item of data you quoted. If you want me to believe what you say, then reference it precisely.
Karen McLeod March 31, 2011 at 03:17 PM
I am an employee of the Wentzville school district, a parent of two students in the Wentzville School District and a resident in the Wentzville School District boundaries. I have been here for eleven years. In that time the district has added 6 elementary schools. When Crossroads opened we were said to be in a "boom". They opened needing additional classrooms. This year we opened both Lakeview and Discovery Ridge. Opening Lakeview was supposed to relieve some of the over crowding at Heritage. While we do see a difference, in the number of students, we also see and feel the difference in the number of staff. We want to be the best school district in Missouri, not for ourselves, but for YOUR children. This can't be done in a kindergarten class with 25+ students! We want to be able to educate all children in the least restrictive environment (the regular classroom), this can't be done in a class with 25+ students! We want your child to be accepted into the best college, or the most lucrative career, but a high school teacher can't meet the needs of 40+ students! (My numbers are not documented "facts", just a real life example!) This tax increase does not go to teacher salaries, or materials, only for building the space needed to give your child the best education possible! I want the best for my children, and yours, so I am voting Yes on Prop 3.
Matt Deichmann March 31, 2011 at 07:58 PM
For the fifth year in a row, the Wentzville School District has been awarded "Distinction in Performance" by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. http://www.dese.mo.gov/divimprove/sia/dar/10yrsDistricttDIPawards.pdf The 2010 final Annual Performance Report that shows the WSD scored a perfect 100% and met or exceeded the standards in all 14 categories. Published each year since 2000, the Annual Performance Report measures the academic performance standards that are the cornerstone of Missouri’s accreditation requirements for public schools. The 14 standards cover measures such as ACT and MAP test scores, attendance, graduation rates, and other academic indicators. http://dese.mo.gov/planning/profile/apr/2010s092089.html
Matt Deichmann March 31, 2011 at 08:08 PM
The WSD’s current expenditures per Average Daily Attendance (ADA) of $9,045 is the lowest in the county and below the state average (http://dese.mo.gov/planning/profile/SF092089.html). Combine that with the fact that District composite MAP scores are in the top 10 percent in the state (http://dese.mo.gov/schooldata/ftpdata.html) and you can see that the WSD delivers a lot of educational “bang for the buck”! Of the 28 school districts in St. Charles and St. Louis counties, the WSD has the LOWEST ratio of administrators per student (http://dese.mo.gov/schooldata/ftpdata.html) . With only one administrator per 303 students, Wentzville has the fourth lowest ratio in the state of Missouri out of 522 school districts. The District spends very little of its overall budget on administration. In fact, the WSD is in the bottom 6% of school districts in the state when it comes to the percentage of the budget spent on administrative costs ( http://dese.mo.gov/schooldata/ftpdata.html)! Reply
Jared England March 31, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Thanks for clarifying your references Matt. I do appreciate it. However, this link doesn't give any useful info, http://dese.mo.gov/schooldata/ftpdata.html .
Matt Deichmann March 31, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Actually Jared the link gives plenty of useful information, but you do have to click on the "X" next to a topic to open the Excel Worksheet and access the corresponding data...
Dawn Gerard April 01, 2011 at 06:44 PM
As a parent and an educator, I have grown increasingly frustrated with the comments regarding the proposed tax increase in the Wentzville School District. I fully support the $.30 tax increase because I know that it is going to help my children, my schools, and my friends. Much of the information given by the opponents of this ballot issue is inaccurate. Many of the candidates running for the school board do not support this issue and, in fact, do no support teachers; this is not what we need for our children and their future. I am not naïve to the fact that times are tough; my family lives paycheck to paycheck as well; but, if we want quality education for our children, we are going to have to spend a little bit of money. The proposed levy will raise taxes only $.30 more per $100 of assessed valuation each month; we’re talking less than $.50 PER DAY. That is less than it costs for you to buy a 32-ounce soda from QuikTrip. Stop and think about that. How much do you spend on your daily cappuccino from Starbucks? How much is that bagel you buy from Bread Co.? This is LESS than that! continued...
Dawn Gerard April 01, 2011 at 06:44 PM
continued...Wentzville is growing by leaps and bounds and is splitting at the seams; they need the 3rd high school to fit our ever expanding community. The district has more than doubled in size in the last ten years; in fact, we have increased by 121% in the decade. Another advantage to the increase will be the ability for the district to continue full-day kindergarten; something my child has had the opportunity to utilize this year. The cost for me to have her in day care for the other half of the day would far exceed the YEARLY increase the district is asking for. Not to mention the benefits she is receiving by having her education expanded by being there all day. Studies have shown this to be a proven fact. All I am asking is for you to really stop and think before you vote. Whether you have children in the district or not, you need to do what is right for the City of Wentzville and for the future generations. The Wentzville teachers support Proposition 3 because they know and understand its value and they need you to know and understand it as well. They also support Mike Cecil, Terry Ratcliff and Heather Reiter for the school board because these three people support public education, our schools, our teachers, and our students. One final note, look at what you have spent on your child’s wardrobe this year alone. Isn’t your child’s education worth at least a fraction of that amount? I believe it is; please vote YES on Proposition 3!
Jared England April 01, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Dawn, I don't buy soda from QT, or Mobil, or anywhere else. Nor do I have a daily beverage from Starbucks, nor a bagel from Bread Co. So I take it you are not talking to me. Wentzville DID grow alot in the last decade. But has that growth sustained? To answer that question, take a look at almost everys single new subdivision in Wentzville. I know of one subdivision that has only 1 house. It has been that way for several years. Where's the continued growth? It's not there. WSD is a good district. My two children will probably enjoy a new high school, if they are in within the new school's boundaries, if one is built. But I don't believe taking more money out of taxpayers pockets is what this district needs. I have done my own research. When data was put forth by the Dirctor of Communications for WSD on this site, he didn't even list references, he just expected us to swallow without knowing what we were taking. Thankfully, he reposted with the direct references, but they only show his (the school's) side. I still do not know why some data conflicts within the DESE. From what I have seen (or not seen), I do not believe there are facts substantiating a need for more buildings...at this time. Times are tough. It's time to buckle up and make do with what you have.
Matt Deichmann April 01, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the Wentzville School District is the fastest growing school district in the state of Missouri, and it’s not even close! The population in the District grew by 39,048 or an amazing 121% percent increase from 2000 to 2010. The District was the fastest growing over the past decade both in total numbers and in percentage growth, and the growth continues. This school year alone the District enrollment grew by over 500 students. A big part of that increase came from the City of Wentzville which added over 22,000 people during the past decade and grew by a whopping 322%, the largest percentage increase of any city in the state of Missouri. "To no one's surprise, the 2010 U.S. census confirmed the Wentzville School District experienced major growth in the last decade. And not just a spurt. More like a flood." http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/stcharles/education/article_bdaeb67b-02f1-59f9-87e6-4fa1641476a7.html
Jared England April 01, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Wentzville did grow a lot during the last decade, but how much has it grown in the last 2 years?
Karen Clark April 01, 2011 at 10:35 PM
“What are the schools like in this area?” That was the usually the first question I was asked by prospective buyers when I was a Realtor. Even buyers without children usually believe in the value of investing in a quality school district. Like many residents, my husband and I are struggling in this economy. No, we don't buy Starbucks . . . because we can't afford it. I would much rather invest in quality schools. Even though my daughter is graduating next year, I believe it would be incredibly selfish of us to not consider the rest of the community. As a former public school teacher, I experienced the benefit of smaller class sizes. Inevitably, I was able to complete my lesson plans in almost half the time in the smaller classes, which gave me additional time to provide those students with more challenging material. This occurred even if the smaller classes had a more challenging group of students. The student-teacher ratio was the single most important factor in determining the amount of material I was able to present. I challenge each citizen to spend some time in the school and observe for themselves how challenging it is to meet educational goals with large class sizes. We often hear citizens express concern about the burdens that will be placed on their children and grandchildren in regards to deficits. What about the burden we will place on them if we don't provide them with a quality education? continued
Karen Clark April 01, 2011 at 10:48 PM
I homeschooled my daughter for a couple of years when she was younger. Despite that, I still recognized the need to support my local schools. For those who are fortunate enough to provide a private education for your children, please consider that not everyone is able to do so. Without a public school system, our country would be like Liberia, where only the wealthy can afford an education for their children. For those who are concerned about where the money is being spent, please get involved. Attend school board meetings. Don't just complain. Do something. Volunteer in the schools. See how hard the teachers are working and what it's like to maintain control of a large classroom. Teachers today have to deal with students from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are homeless. Others come with disabilities such as autism, ADHD, fetal alcohol disorders, learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders. It's not just a matter of presenting material. If you want the best teachers for our district, we need to attract them -- not drive them away. If you want our nation to compete globally and if you truly believe in the value of an education, it is critical that you support your local schools. This is where it begins. Or where it ends. You decide.
Richard Shoaf April 02, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Wentzville school district and other taxing districts continue to put the measures on the ballot even after the voters have made it clear that we do not approve. Enough is enough. Work within your means and stop trying to increase our taxes. It is not that we do not appreciate education. You need to manage your existing budget. Time to do more with less. Additionally it is time to allow those of us who pay our taxes school vouchers to use for private schools. They seem to be doing better at managing their money. Richard Shoaf local business owner and longtime resident
Thomas April 02, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Managing money is not the concern, THERE IS NO SPACE! The District has done an amazing job with finances. The one aspect that the District has no control over is how many students attend. Prop 3 is not about asking for more money because the District can not meet its' financial obligations. There is not enough room for all of the students who are already there! It is a shame that people do not investigate the real situation before voting on the future of our children.
Chris April 03, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Richard, I wish it was as simple as that, but even if we went to a fee based system where you paid for your kids, your individual bill for each child would more than double. It takes more than just your taxes to educate your children to the tune of about $9000 a year. One other point is let's assume that all the new residents' taxes could pay the operating costs for their children's education. There still is not enough room for all the kids already here and there is not enough capital to build the necessary 3rd high school and additional classrooms at several of the other schools. The average $9 per month increase for a homeowner of a $200k house is a small price to pay to build the new school and classrooms so that all of the kids in the district can have an excellent education without much larger class sizes and cramped trailers. I came here from the east coast and my taxes here are half of what they were there. In my opinion our district is doing a great job of already doing more with less and runs a very tight ship and budget. It's too bad that some of the school board candidates don't understand that. If people truly understand the issues and care about our kid's education they will vote yes for prop 3.
Karen Clark April 03, 2011 at 01:25 AM
We are a nation that believes in equal opportunity for all. There is no equal opportunity without a free appropriate public education. For those who prefer a better education, there are private schools. How fortunate we are to live in a country where you don't have to be born wealthy in order to receive an education!
Richard Shoaf April 03, 2011 at 01:32 AM
If they believe they have been taxed enough already, they will be voting NO on Prop 3. The voters answered this same question last year and I hope we have those who care about keeping taxes minimized will be out in force. I know our ballot is already in.
Marsha Sverdrup April 03, 2011 at 09:36 PM
I do not understand why three of the eight Board of Education Canidates (Courtney Tieman, Angela Mutert, and Wayne Self) would not publicly state if they were for or against Prop 3. What are they afraid of? We need people who are willing to be transparent about their intentions on our school board. Thanks You, Marsha Sverdrup
courtney April 03, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Ms. Sverdrup Prop 3 is not a black and white issue. Perhaps some of the other "non-transparent" candidates have reservations about it as I do. I cannot speak for the other two, but I am skeptical of Prop 3 in its current form. Perhaps it should be changed to gain more support, should we ask for a fifteen or twenty cent increase, rather than a thirty? Should we take off the plans for the highschool and focus on the current need at the elementary level? The economy is not strong right now and people are struggling. I just think perhaps it should be revisited next year or as things recover in the economy. It was voted down in November, so I believe the opinion of the community was clear. If the community says no, we must find another way. Also, just looking at the numbers, I am suspicious of the construction costs. With the help of a retired WSD superintendent, I looked at the numbers and broke it down by a per class cost as well as a per square footage cost: Greentree Elementary:This is $355,000/classroom or $220/square foot Peine Ridge/Duello/Lakeview: $262,000/classroom or $175/square foot Crossroads Elementary: $451,000/classroom or $231/square foot Boonetrail: $350,000/classroom or $233/square foot South Middle School: $340,000/classroom (with one classroom at $640,000), or $195/square foot. The costs of construction, under Prop 3 plans, range from $175 to 233 per square foot. The typical cost in other districts in the area range from $125-150 per square foot.
Jared England April 04, 2011 at 01:14 PM
What is the current enrollment for WSD's schools this year? I hear that the reason why we need more space is because of the increase in students the WSD is seeing each year. I have read numbers about the current Kindergarten class. What about the rest of the classes? What is the difference in enrollment between the 2010/11 Kindergarten class and the 2010-11 5th grade class? 8th graders? Seniors? Prove to me that you need the space. I have not seen any of the proof. All I see is how well the school is doing operating on such a low budget (compared to other Missouri school districts). I appreciate how well it is doing! Thank you for doing such a great job! But prove to me that you need the increase in space. Prove to me that the increase in the current Kindergarten class is going to keep increasing over the next few years. I have NOT seen any of that proof! The WSD is wanting more $ out of my pocket. I'm not buying what they are selling. It's as simple as that.
Chris April 04, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Jared, I have added a couple of graphs so that your scientific side can visualize the current enrollment. This data is from the school district enrollment and shows the current numbers by grade and the projections going forward. As you can see, there are currently 20-30% more children in grades K-6 then the average high school class sizes right now. The increased class sized are already starting with the freshman class, and will continue to increase for the next 9 years or more. Just with the current kids in school (forget about any further growth in the area) there will be 25% more kids when the current K-3 kids start to hit high school in 6 years, not to mention the 200-250 additional children that are in 4-6th grades now. There is not enough room right now for these students and that is not an issue to debate. The question for taxpayers is how do we want to handle it? Do we want 8 -10 trailers at each high school, a multitude more at the middle schools and elementary schools, no additional permanent classrooms, no full day kindergarten and cuts to other services? Or is it better to plan for expanded classrooms where they are needed, a 3rd high school and a position that enables us to handle future growth? I think it is a small price to pay and would be very short sighted to think otherwise. I may not change your mind, but hopefully others see the reasons clearly. http://www.wentzville.k12.mo.us/tinymce/filemanager/files/communityrelations/WebInfo.pdf
Heather April 04, 2011 at 02:38 PM
The questions that are being asked, even by board candidates , have been answered repeatedly...The facts below were presented at over 30 speaking engagements - not just schools, they were at community events and organizations. If you don't like or believe stats - walk in the schools, take a look at the modulars being used, non-traditional classrooms being used and teachers on carts - It's reality! Here are the number of students per grade as of September 2010 - note that it changes daily, 2 of my daughters have added students in their classes as of Spring Break, and none have left in their particular classes: Kindergarten - 1101 1st - 1088 2nd - 1056 3rd - 996 4th - 1049 5th - 1047 6th - 1015 7th - 952 8th - 928 9th - 954 10th - 885 11th - 758 12th - 802 Capacity - Elementary - 6500, Middle schools - 3150 HS - 3600 Just with the kids that we have now naturally growing up and moving on to the next grade - in 2012 Elem will have 6808, Middle - 3244, HS - 3782
Heather April 04, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Courtney - It would be great to be able to have the opportunity to wait until the economy turns around before putting something of this nature back on the ballot...nobody wants to pay unnecessary taxes - but that's just it THIS IS NECESSARY! From your stats above with construction costs, I'm guessing you also know how long it takes to build a High School...Say we wait until the Spring of 2012 and it passes, under fast construction timelines we may be able to open it in the Fall of 2014 - what's your suggestion to do with the over capacity of 400 students in 2013 at the HS? Just deal with it! Well that's not good enough for my kids, my school district and my community!
Karen Clark April 04, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Please remember, also, that crowded classrooms and crowded hallways encourage discipline problems and make it more difficult to handle dangerous situations. I graduated from a large overcrowded suburban school in the baby boom era. We had 4,300 students, with 1,300 in my graduating class. We had to be on split shifts, which resulted in the buses running twice as much. At the price of gas today, that would really be detrimental. Kids on the morning shift slept through their morning classes, while others didn't get home from school until 5 or 6 p.m. Student behavior is much worse now than it was in 1971. There is a lack of respect for rules and teachers unlike I've ever seen. Broken homes were rare when I was in school, and few women worked outside the home. Children of trauma exhibit behaviors that are challenging to handle under the best circumstances. Add to that the media exposure that they receive and the training in "Bullying 101" that is available on today's reality TV shows. Should we wait until a bridge falls down and people are killed before we shore it up? Or wait until the ship has sunk before getting out the life rafts? I haven't seen a naysayer yet that actually works or participates in the district and knows what it's like to be on the front lines. I'm wondering if some of them even have children or grandchildren in the district.
Jared England April 04, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Well, Karen....I do have children in the district. And I do participate in my children's education.
Karen Clark April 04, 2011 at 06:04 PM
If those statistics are true, have you considered that overcrowding of the schools in the 60's and 70's may have actually contributed to that violence? I don't want to see that type of a situation in Wentzville and I think we need to do everything possible to keep our kids safe. I do want to take this opportunity to thank all the parents and citizens that are supportive of our schools! And one more comment: We adopted our daughter when we were in our 50's, but we always supported the schools even though we were childless and had no prospects. We recognized the value of our children and of the schools and the teachers. So thank you to those who have chosen this profession and who dedicate their lives to the betterment of our communities!

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