Earlier this week, Ladue School administrators held the second of two planned roundtable discussions open to the public ahead of next month's public vote on increasing the district's tax levy by .49 cents.
With an enrollment that has increased 23 percent over 10 years and a nine percent drop in revenues, due to a slow paced economy and falling home values, the district has been put on a financial collision course. Some cuts will still likely come even if the ballot measure passes. They will be worse if it fails.
“It’s sort of like we’re on a sinking ship and the bucket we are using to bail water has a hole in it,” said Dr. Jason Buckner, chief financial officer addressing a room full of concerned residents, parents, administrators and teachers at Ladue High School Monday night.
Bucker said maintaining the district finances is no different than running a home budget. “There are simply things that are out of our control. We have no say over utility rates. If we have severe winter weather (the district incurred several recent years), costs go up.” Besides, “Our money is tied up in a state mandated pension fund for our employees and we have to continue to purchase services for our schools,” he said.
If the tax levy passes, then a number of things will kick into place
- Class room sizes, grades 3-12 will remain the same. Plans are in place to keep class room sizes smaller in grades K-3.
- The fifth grade center at the West Campus will open for school year 2013-14.
- The district will be able to avoid expenditure reductions
- Teachers would receive modest increases
Should the bond issue not pass:
- $1-2 million would be cut from the budget every year going forward. The district has already cut $7 million from the budget the past four years.
- Size of class rooms would be mandated by the number of teachers available in each district building
- In time, The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would name Ladue as a financially stressed district.
Watch the interviews with district administrators and others. Then tell us what you think.