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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.

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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