Prop K – How Did We Get Here?
Over the past 10 years, student enrollment has increased by 1000 resident students – that’s a 23% increase! But the revenue has remained relatively flat. In fact, the total revenue has only grown, 6.4% over that same time. State funding, new home construction and increased home values do not cover these increased costs.
Starting in the 2009-10 school year, with increasing numbers of students, additional teachers and personnel were hired. With the corresponding downturn in the economy, costs exceeded the revenue that was generated, so cuts from the operating budget began. These cuts focused on non-classroom positions and supply budgets to reduce the direct impact on students. Over a 7 year period, $3.7MM in cuts were made.
Over the next several years, student enrollment continued to grow, and teachers were hired to maintain class sizes and ensure the individual educational needs of students were met. In 2012-13, the district implemented full-day tuition-free Kindergarten to meet the needs of our community and bring us up to the standard of other St. Louis school area school districts. During this same time, school safety became an increasing national concern, and safety and security personnel and resources were added to ensure the safety of our kids, further increasing costs.
By 2014-15, total enrollment had grown 600 students, or 14%, resulting in 47 additional staff members since 2009-10 school year. The student increases are the result of resident enrollment. The number of transfer students in our district has been steadily declining..
With the increasing student body and relatively flat tax revenue, the district was operating at a deficit. A tax levy of 78 cents was put on the November 2015 ballot to maintain existing programs. When the tax levy was defeated, $1MM worth of cuts were made in the current school year to reduce expenditures, including not filling open positions and cutting school operating and supply budgets.
The following year, in 2016-17, $4MM worth of additional cuts were made, including cutting 25 teachers, 24 support staff, 3 administrators, and a salary freeze for all employees. Some staff also took a pay cut to preserve extracurricular programs, and activities fees for clubs and sports were charged.
These cuts have been felt by the students and their families. Class sizes are larger. There are fewer reading and math specialists. There are fewer teaching assistants. The demands on the remaining teachers are high. The result is that our kids are not able to get the individualized education they need to achieve their best.
Why Do We Need to Approve Prop K?
In order to give our students the education they need and deserve, it is necessary to invest in more teachers and specialists, as well as school supplies so our students have the tools to learn. Prop K will fund this, without cutting additional programming. If Prop K does not pass, the district will prioritize the educational needs of our students, so cuts will be made in other areas. Those cuts will be made from the following areas:
- Bus Service – reduced to the state minimum – requiring any students within 3.5 miles of school to find their own transportation.
- This will impact not only students and their families, but also the neighborhoods surrounding our schools, which will see an increase in traffic during drop-off and pick-up times.
- Extra-curricular activities – freshman sports, 4th & 5th grade band and orchestra, intramurals, clubs including: chess, math, French, art and jazz band.
- Having a broad offering of activities, allows our kids to explore and find their passions. It contributes to developing well-rounded adults and leaders.
- Extended school day programs
- These programs include before and after school tutoring.
- Summer school and credit enhancement courses
- Summer school helps our students be able to be fully prepared for the coming school year. Elementary (ESY) serves to combat the “summer slide” with students who already struggle with reading and math skills. Credit enhancement classes at the high school impact our students’ ability to get into competitive colleges.
- Staff positions will continue to be lost through attrition, continuing to increase class size.
What is Prop K?
Prop K is an initiative on the April 4th ballot that will enable Kirkwood Schools to provide high quality education services for our kids. A reasonable increase – proposed $0.46 per $100 of assessed property value – will ensure we can continue to meet the needs for our growing student body and help maintain one of Kirkwood’s strongest community assets.
If passed, Prop K will enable Kirkwood Schools to maintain existing programs and:
- Restore some of the teaching positions that were cut in 2016, which will begin to address class sizes
- Avoid further cuts to staff and teaching positions
- Partially restore school supply budgets
- Secure financial stability for our schools
How much will my taxes increase?
For a $300,000 home, the increase is $22 per month or only $5.50 per week.
Note: Qualifying seniors and those on disability may be eligible for property tax relief.
How will the additional funds be spent?
For every dollar of increase revenue, this is how it will be spent:
- 70 cents -Teachers and Instructional Specialists
- 11 cents -Teaching Assistants and Support Staff
- 7 cents -Instructional Needs – the tools students use in the classroom to learn
- 8 cents -Safety, nurses, student transportation and property insurance
- 4 cents -Administration
Why Should You Vote YES for Prop K?
Prop K will ensure that that Kirkwood can maintain the quality education our students need and deserve, while also providing needed activities and services so our students grow up to be well-rounded people and community leaders. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.
A strong school system is the foundation for a strong community. Strong schools attract people to Kirkwood, resulting in strong home values, and an engaged and vibrant community.