Grassroots Activists Speak Out AGAINST Mehlville Public School District Prop C!

I had a chance to speak with some of the folks at the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association about their opposition to Mehlville Public School District’s proposed 25% tax levy hike.

You might also be interested in reading our other blog posts on this issue:

News Flash: Liberal, Big Government Spenders Exist in School Districts Too!

Another Prop C – Only This Time, It Should Be NO!

Carl Bearden
View all posts by Carl Bearden
Carl's website

12 Responses to “Grassroots Activists Speak Out AGAINST Mehlville Public School District Prop C!”

  1. outraged in oakville says:

    These guys are out of touch w/ reality. Seriously.
    You all are proposing to NOT fund education because of a couple poor decisions by the BOE in the past. You are proposing to NOT fund education because our enrollment dropped less than 6%. Folks if the economy is really really as bad as this committee is saying, then don’t you think enrollment in FREE PUBLIC education will eventually increase?

    Parochial parents….are you positive you’ll never require public school services for your child? Positive? What if your school closes? Enrollment is down there too. What if your child tests as gifted? What if your child is diagnosed with a learning disability?

    On the turf? Really? That happened several years ago. Bad decision, no doubt but the ongoing cost of maintaining 2 safe grass fields was also quite expensive. Don’t pretend that it’s free.

    Aaron Hilmer has y’all snowed if you think that the Mehlville School District has any control at all over teacher and administrator pensions… It’s state law, folks. It’s a required 27% contribution. It’s shared 50/50 with the educator and the district. Look at your last paystub and check out your rate of withholding for social security… Was it 13.5%?
    Nope not even close.

    Stop punishing kids and the community for the perception of bad choices of a few board members. Vote them out. That job always has openings…. The pay is awesome and the hours are few… Oh wait- they work for free so any BOE time is VOLUNTEER work!

    • Carl Bearden says:

      It’s a false statement to say that not voting for Prop C would “NOT fund education”. Bad decisions made by the current BOE will not make up for “poor decisions by the BOE of the past”. False statements in support of an unneeded tax hike only exposes it for what it is, a power struggle and not “for the children.”

      Prop C is not needed to continue education at a quality level in Mehlville. Study after study after study has shown that money spent does not equate to outcome results. In fact, the more money spent, the results are often not as good as the levels achieved before all the money!

      Mehlville and the other districts lost the “we need more money” argument when they spent nearly $6 million suing the state to get more money. The Missouri Supreme Court has recorded testimony by several superintendents who quite frankly embarrassed themselves and public education in their testimony. The expert witnesses on the “more money” side failed miserably to show more money made a difference in educational outcomes. Prop C falls in this camp.

      What is Mehlville doing to change the pension law? What “real” changes do they have to offer? Silence.

      The real punishing of kids is the action of the BOE on putting on an ill-conceived proposal like Prop C on the ballot. It will hurt their families and provide little to them in a better education. I agree, I hope some of the folks do take on the sitting BOE. At least the opponents of Prop C understands that the BOE is elected to serve the PATRONS and the children. Too often they become servants of administration and unions with the kids maybe second or third and the patrons always last.

      • outraged in oakville says:

        First, thank you for being willing to put an proponent of C’s comments on your blog. The MCTA is pretty unwilling to post comments contrary to their agenda.

        What control does the Mehlville School District have over PSRS/PEERS? Call your state rep and state senator if you want that changed. In the short term, nothing the district can do but send the money.

        Some of the prop C money is going towards needed building improvements. Washington, Oakville and Buerkle Middles are NOT adequate. There are physical issues w/ the foundations. The schools have outdated equipment, ancient computers (is the one you are typing on less than 9 years old? Probably) Our district is falling behind neighboring districts rapidly in terms of opportunities for the students. Our schools pay money to rent facilities for fine arts performances. Adding a performing arts center at each high school is ultimately going to save the district money.
        Studies have proven that early childhood intervention is key to success in school and life especially for low income children. Rural schools with a higher rate of state funding have long offered full day kindergarten. Currently, only the families with financial resources can use full day K in the Mehlville School District- you can’t pay, then your kids goes half day.

        As far as the funding formula lawsuit goes, the cooperating school districts participated in that lawsuit. Most, if not all metro area schools were involved. No other St. Louis county voting district is continuing to punish their children and their public schools for the failure of that lawsuit. Tax levies are passing all over St. Louis County. The question that SoCo voters should ask themselves is…can we afford our taxes to stay low? Real estate agents will tell anyone on the market for a house that school district matters. I know that the value of my house will decrease as our school district suffers from lack of funds.

        Carl, were you involved in the COMPASS process? Was Matt Chellis? Aaron Hilmer? Greg Frigerio? Rich Franz? Ken Meyer? Kurt Witzel? Walt Bivens? Did you gentlemen make your voices heard for the last several years while countless residents, employees and parents shared their goals for the district? Spending a lot of money on education doesn’t necessarily make for a better experience for children- Mehlville has proven that for years and years. The district makes do with less and still provides a fabulous educational experience for our kids. That’s because we have excellent teachers who believe in our kids and work hard to make sure that they achieve success. But they are making do with outdated textbooks. They are making do with inadequate supplies and poor physical space (bad hvac/lighting/air circulation/acoustics.) Prop C and the COMPASS plan addresses those concerns. It also addresses security concerns. That was a big issue in our community throughout the COMPASS process. There is NO money to stretch out of the current budget to make those security upgrades, those textbook replacements, the technology replacements for 9 year old computers.

        I urge voters to consider voting YES for C as an investment in their property and an investment in our community. This isn’t about the BOE. You don’t like them- vote ’em out. I plan to vote out a couple the next chance I get!

        I know that the economy isn’t in good shape but for some of us, the value of our home is our largest asset. We need good schools to maintain the value of our homes. That’s real estate 101. The 25% of the SCHOOL DISTRICT portion of our tax is much needed. This is not a FULL 25% tax increase. The 6.xx% tax that most MSD residents pay will increase less than 18% total for most residents. It’s deductible on your federal schedule A. There is a MO property tax credit that one can use if one qualifies based on age and/or disability and income. I will encourage the school district to offer tax help again in the spring to residents who need help with MO-PTC.

        Again, thanks for allowing publication of my thoughts.

        • Carl Bearden says:

          Just because we disagree with your position, as you do with ours, we do not attempt to stifle the discussion. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a firm believer in being able to disagree agreeably!

          My point on retirement changes is that rather than be “victims” of the “state retirement plan” Mehlville and others should be leaders in pension reform. One of the things that people always hear is that teachers need a good retirement plan because they don’t get Social Security. As you pointed out in your previous post, the amounts being contributed exceed Social Security amounts so its a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, taxpayers can no longer afford it.

          We as a state must develop pension changes for schools that reflect current realities. In fact, other than establishing the guidelines, I would like to see the state out of the pension business and let local school districts develop their own. It’s only one of the ways to encourage much needed competition in public schools. Right now the competition is “I’ll raise my salaries and you raise yours and I’ll raise mine and you raise yours…”

          I’ve been involved in similar processes as COMPASS and even one or two led by ARC. I’ve read available descriptions of the COMPASS process and news accounts. From all appearances, there was a pre-defined solution which dictated first, finding out where people were in relation to that solution and second, how to get them there if they were not already.

          The MCTA folks aren’t’ saying something doesn’t need to be done to address some of the issues you raise. In fact, Greg Frigerio is very out front on that position in his video. However, many I have talked to in the area don’t believe that Prop C is the answer. I agree and would continue to urge people to vote NO on Prop C.

          Should Prop C fail, I would hope the BOE would have a far more open process proving that they are indeed working to find a solution rather than pre-defining an outcome. I think it would be fair to call upon the opponents of Prop C to be a part of the process. However, it must be a truly open process for it to work.

          Thanks for participating!

          • outraged in oakville says:

            I appreciate that Greg Frigerio is basing his objection strictly on the economy. But let each individual decide that themselves. We don’t need a grassroots effort to oppose the school district for people to say- Yes I can afford it or No I can’t afford it. This committee is all over every questionable decision or off hand comment made by anyone involved with the district.

            We don’t need former board members blaming the current board for mistakes that were made 10 + years ago. We don’t need people holding the current BOE accountable for mistakes that past superintendents made. We do need people to recognize that these are very real needs for the district. I participated in COMPASS and in COMPASS II. It’s not ok for outstate schools to have state of the art facilities and our Mehlville middle schools to be so substandard. (that’s kind of the reason for the lawsuit, you know…) But that’s how it is. Voters have been deceived that lottery money and casino money would fund education. Well, it has, but the state has decided that that particular stream of income will replace the previous revenues used for schools not add to it. Again- state issue. South County voters have to decide whether or not they want our school district to be able to be as good as our neighboring districts in terms of facilities and resources.

            We can try to get the state to change the way they fund education- that’s been a decades long battle and will likely continue for decades more. In the meantime, let’s provide our teachers and students with the tools they need to be successful.

          • Carl Bearden says:

            Outstate schools have no more state of the art facilities than anyone else. It’s also not due to the way the state funds education which was changed in 2005 and is not the problem.

            The fact is if Prop C fails, Mehlville will be no less able to provide a quality education than they are today.

  2. outraged in oakville says:

    If Prop C fails, Mehlville will need to make cuts. There is a salary schedule to keep up with. If a teacher changes channels because they earn an advanced degree, pay rises accordingly. Even if the district freezes salaries and we are lucky enough to have dedicated teachers stick it out, the money will only last a while. This district has been tightening its belt for years. The higher cost of living is an issue for the district too…higher utility costs, fuel and maintenance costs, etc.

    I agree with the premise that throwing money at a failing district doesn’t help. Buy Mehlville isn’t failing. We’re hanging on. We are solidly middle of the pack in the metro area. Show me research that supports the assertion that giving more fiscal resources to an average district doesn’t help. Honestly, it can’t hurt. If the Mehlville School District had the financial resources to have state of the art technology available to students and teachers, how is that a bad thing? If the MSD had the financial resources to offer current and updated curricula to all students and teachers, how is that a bad thing?

    And yes, I believe that many “out state” schools have much better facilities. It helps that they retain all local property tax AND have significant contributions from state money. If Mehlville spends $7500 per child… then $6000 is local. $1500 is state or federal money. The district last asked for an increase in the levy in 2006. That was Proposition A for academics was soundly defeated. At the time, the economy was fine. No worries. Everyone was happy with their increased home values and they still voted no on a property tax increase to support the schools.

    If you are going to vote no, let’s be honest about it. You don’t want to pay more taxes. It’s not about the economy or the school board or the way they spend money or your perception of whether this district needs the money. You just don’t want to pay more taxes. I’d respect that. Really. But be honest.

    Again, I’m voting YES because the district needs the money to do what the COMMUNITY wants it to do. The district needs the money to make the schools safe and competitive with neighboring districts. The district needs the money to retain the quality teachers that we have.

    Before you vote on Tuesday, look around at the walls of the public school that is opening its doors for voters. See if you notice the cracks, water marks, missing tiles. See if you can get into the building anywhere near the starting or ending times. Know that faculty and staff are carpooling or parking in neighboring subdivisions to allow voters plenty of parking. Know that the children of the community are next door, using textbooks that are outdated and in real need of replacement. Just remember that it really is for the kids. Really. This district has a proven track record of putting children first when decisions are made. Cuts are determined by what has the smallest impact on our students. That’s why the buildings have suffered.

    Think about your reason for your objection. If you are objecting because the state of Missouri shoulda woulda coulda….don’t take it out on the kids. If you are objecting because of teacher/administrator pensions, don’t take it out on the kids- it’s state law. If you are objecting because your kids don’t use the programs, think about the impact failing schools will have on your property values. If you are objecting because someone on the board of education made you unhappy, then take it up with that individual the next time they are up for re-election. If you are objecting because the economy is bad but you can personally afford the increase, then stop using that excuse, let every individual voting decide what they can and cannot afford to pay in taxes but realize if you itemize your taxes, the increase is also deductable on your schedule A. If you are objecting because you pay tuition for private school, realize that you have an obligation to pay taxes as a citizen of Missouri and the United States. Recognize that you have a choice in the education of your child. Recognize that your child may require the services of the public school system and they will provide them with a happy heart.

    • Carl Bearden says:

      Voting NO on Prop C is just as much for the kids as you say voting yes would be. Voting No requires a better plan, with better judgement and does not blame others such as the state for bad decisions made in the district.

      The kids will benefit much better if the adults stopped using them as pawns for tax increases.

  3. […] Grassroots Activists Speak Out AGAINST Mehlville Public School District Prop C! […]

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mehlville spends less per student than any other district, except Bayless!!! This is a joke. I am looking for a new home and will honestly be spending more to move to a district that cares about education. I see these videos were shot at Helen Fitgerald’s. I bet all you crabby old men spend more money on your bar tabs each week then you would spend on this tax raise for the entire year! You just DON’T WANT TO PAY MORE TAXES….PERIOD. I guess the schools will have to be falling down before people wake up and realize that our district is laughable to people outside of it. Good luck selling your homes….I am getting out of here for good!

    • Carl Bearden says:

      Prop C has nothing and will have no impact on home values. I can tell from your posting that you may not be aware that there is a bad economy in our country and state right now. That is impacting home sales and values.

      Good luck selling your home!

  5. outraged in oakville says:

    Real Estate 101…. good schools = higher home values. Carl, other metro area districts haven’t seen the fall in home values that south county has seen. When the district is forced to cut jobs, it will absolutely impact home sales. No doubt.
    Again, the MCTA is too busy gloating about their big “win” to go forward with helping the district be successful. It’s a shame and an embarassment to our community.
    Prop C would have had a tremendous impact on our schools and on our students.

    I’d love to hear why people voted no. For real. What was the real reason. Didn’t want to pay it? Really truly couldn’t afford it? Didn’t think it was their responsibility? Think that they pay too much already? Think that middle of the pack is good enough? Think that teachers are paid too much? Terry Noble is paid too much? BOE is out of touch? too many administrators? The state should pay it? what was the real reason?