Frequently Asked Questions About Proposition E
What is Proposition E?
Proposition E is a no-tax-rate-increase $22 million bond issue on the ballot April 2 to improve safety, accessibility and other space issues in district buildings and relieve overcrowding in elementary schools. Six million dollars would be used for safety and accessibility enhancements that include secure doors and controlled, single point of entry vestibules for all buildings, asbestos abatement, secure interior and classroom doors, secure exterior doors, as well as elevators and chairlifts to improve accessibility, in accord with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, the bond issue would include $16 million to add space at Hixson Middle School so that sixth grade can be moved there and to convert the Steger Sixth Grade Center/Givens School campus into a single elementary building.
Passage of the bond issue would not raise the district’s current debt service tax rate of 56.99 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation.
How much will this cost me?
Passage of this bond issue would not increase the district’s current debt service tax rate. Property owners will continue to pay the current debt service tax rate of 56.99 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Doesn’t this district’s overall tax rate rank at the top of school districts in St. Louis County?
No. The district hasn’t had an increase in its overall tax rate since 2010. It currently ranks ninth out of 22 school districts in the county.
Didn’t the district just increase classroom space at the elementary schools by installing modular units?
Resident elementary enrollment in the district has increased eight percent since 2009 and is expected to trend up through 2024. Three schools currently have modular units (Avery, Clark and Edgar Road). Nine percent of the district’s elementary students will attend class in a modular in 2019-20.
Is the district enrollment growing?
Enrollment in the Webster Groves School District has been growing for quite a few years. Since 2009, elementary residential enrollment has increased by eight percent and total resident district enrollment has increased by 11%. Data show an upward trend in the number of children born in the district and a notable increase in the number of students who had attended private/parochial schools prior to entering the district (second-highest of any school district in the region from 2009 - 2013).
How did the Board of Education decide to put this proposition on the ballot?
The board’s vote to move forward with the proposition came after about a year of needs assessment/analysis by the district and several months of community discussions including meetings, focus groups and surveys.
How will converting Steger into an elementary school affect school boundaries?
Adding an elementary school will require redrawing existing school boundaries, which would begin once the bond issue has been approved. New boundaries would take effect in 2021-22, through a phase-in process. All kindergarten through fourth grade students enrolled in current elementary schools up to 2020-21 will have the opportunity to finish at their schools. 2021-22 kindergartners and students new to the district that year will attend schools according to the new boundaries. In addition, any child whose address falls within new boundaries could choose to attend that school rather than stay with his or her old school.
How did the district determine the safety, space and accessibility priorities covered in the bond issue?
During the past year, the Building Advisory Committee (a citizens committee) has been actively engaged in the evaluation of district facility needs including a comprehensive Facilities Condition Assessment of existing district infrastructure (buildings and improvements). It subsequently evolved into a broader view of districtwide space, security, accessibility, health/safety and programmatic needs. The committee reported to the School Board information, observations and priorities established during its work.
Additional data collected regarding space and facility needs in the school district include:
- Accessibility Needs (Fall 2018 by district)
- Asbestos (August 2018 by district)
- Safety and Security (July 2018 by Gallagher Bassett)
- Safety and Security (Fall 2018 by Webster Groves Police Department)
- Facilities Condition Assessment (April 2018 by EMG)
- Enrollment Projections (updated January 2018 by Dr. Charles Kofron)
- Additional Enrollment Data (June 2018 by district)
- Programmatic Needs (updated September 2018 by district)
What safety, accessibility and space improvements would Proposition E fund?
Proposition E would provide $6 million for enhancements that include secure doors and controlled, single point of entry vestibules for all buildings, asbestos abatement, districtwide communications system, secure interior and classroom doors, secure exterior doors, as well as accessibility improvements such as elevators and chairlifts, in accord with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
How would Hixson Middle School be expanded?
New building additions at Hixson would include classrooms, library expansion, multi-purpose room, cafeteria expansion, nurse’s office expansion and other renovations in order to relocate sixth grade from Steger to Hixson.
If the district weren’t asking voters to approve a bond issue, wouldn’t the debt service tax rate roll back?
Passage of Proposition E means the school district would maintain its current debt service levy of 56.99 cents. Absent a bond issue, the district would either need to roll back (reduce) the debt service levy or use what would be rolled back to pay off other existing bonds. The reduction of our debt service levy would need to be gradual if we went that route. We have estimated that beginning in 2021-22, WGSD would need to reduce the levy by about five cents if no new bonds were issued. On a $300,000 residential property, this would translate to about $29 in the pocket of the property owner. Naturally, the home owner would continue to see more property tax savings as time passed and the district continued reducing the levy.
If we chose to use that money to pay down other school district bonds, we would maintain the debt service levy at its current level to do so - 56.99 cents for several more years.
Why does the district recommend converting Steger Sixth Grade Center/Givens School into one elementary school?
Converting the Steger/Givens campus into one elementary school would provide considerable relief to the overcrowding in district elementary schools, offering the district more space for a longer time than other options considered. Using this space would increase elementary capacity in the district by 396 students. In addition, use of the Steger/Givens building in this way furthers district efforts to become a more equitable school system by providing more students and families with a neighborhood elementary school.
What are the benefits of moving sixth grade to Hixson Middle School?
Moving sixth grade to Hixson means one less transition for district students, leading to greater continuity of care for diverse academic, social and emotional needs of students, greater access to a wider and deeper array of educational programming and extracurricular activities and improved structure for middle school staff collaboration. In addition, it is anticipated that another benefit of a 6-8th grade school would be increased parental involvement and engagement at the school.
Will moving sixth grade students to Hixson make it one of the bigger middle schools here?
Yes, if sixth graders move to Hixson, it will become one of the biggest middle schools in the state. Knowing that, the district will make it a priority to create smaller environments (grade level wings and lunch periods, for example) in the building, maintain the district commitment to small class sizes for personalized learning and development, and ensure the building is appropriately staffed.
Why doesn’t the district prepare new boundary lines before the election April 2?
The district decided not to redraw any boundaries before the election primarily because that might affect the focus on what’s best for children and the space problems at hand. While the district’s high density pockets probably won’t shift much, waiting to redraw boundaries will allow time for updating enrollment projections that may be helpful when looking at boundary lines. In addition, the district chose not to spend money moving forward on boundary lines before voters make a decision on the bond issue.
Will the district continue allowing resident families to request any district school, so long as there’s space?
It is recommended that the district continue its practice of allowing resident families to send their children to any district school, if space exists in the receiving school at the desired grade level
Will non-resident staff members continue to be allowed to enroll their children here?
It is recommended that children of non-resident staff, following one year of successful employment, continue to be permitted to attend district schools if space allows. This benefit is commonplace among most districts in the region.
What would the district do if Proposition E doesn’t pass?
If Proposition E doesn’t pass, class sizes in the district may grow and the district might have to purchase more modular units for elementary schools. The district would need to fund any safety or accessibility improvements through its operating budget, which only provide for smaller, incremental upgrades.