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OPINION: Schlafly Urges 'No' Vote on Ladue Schools Levy

The well-known conservative political activist is opposed to the school district's question on the April ballot.

Dear Friend,

I am writing to ask you to vote against a big property tax increase on April 3. The Ladue School Board is proposing a tax increase of $466 for every $500,000 of your home’s appraised value.

I care about St. Louis, the city where I was born and raised. I started my education long ago at the DeMun Elementary School and ended it with a B.A. and a J.D. from Washington University. I’ve lived for the last 18 years in Ladue.

The School Board says this tax increase is needed to avoid $2.1 million in spending cuts. The Board should tighten its belt like taxpayers and businesses have had to do in the current recession. There are plenty of ways to cut the budget, such as freezing salaries and benefits instead of handing out raises. The district employs 13 counselors and 12 principals/assistant principals for six schools. A “director of diversity” makes $94,913 and an “administrative intern” makes $83,981. The average full-time teacher salary (not including generous benefits) is $60,552 for 9 months of work during school hours. The superintendent makes $184,000 — 37% more than the Governor of Missouri. The $14.5 million new Early Childhood Center and full-day kindergarten are unnecessary taxpayer-funded babysitting. Elementary school foreign language instruction is a waste. The district does not need to keep spending $20,907 per student as it did in 2011 (including debt service and capital outlays). That is almost as much as tuition for MICDS.

To make matters worse, board members admit they want more tax increases in the future, because they say the levy on the April ballot is not nearly enough to dig them out of their fiscal hole.

            The way to send a message to the School Board to live within its means is to vote NO on Proposition 1 on April 3. Thank you.

Fixed Income April 01, 2012 at 12:42 AM
This election is not about the teachers. The district made it about teachers when it said it would fire some if this didn't pass. Teachers are paying the price for bad decisions made by the school board. Probably every teacher in the district now wishes the board had not been so impulsive to buy Westminster in a recession. The opponents of Prop O were right. Everyone sees that now, except the board and its administration. Think about it. Who else was going to buy it? We probably could have even bought it for less if we made them wait. Any business guy would tell you that's how it works. The board then made the bad decision to try to soak taxpayers with a huge increase when a more modest, temporary increase probably would have passed without opposition. The board never even bothered discussing it with those they knew would oppose it. Then you get the junk mail propaganda from the incumbents and they brag about what a great job they're doing. They honestly can't be serious. Do they think all those yellow signs are the work of three or four cranks? Half this district is disgusted with the job they are doing. Until the teachers have a vote of no confidence in the board and the parents field a blue ribbon panel of board candidates, nothing is going the change. There is plenty of money, this is about how it's being spent. This board has never seen a buck it didn't want to spend twice.
Jill Moore April 01, 2012 at 12:42 AM
LAS, I want you, and all teachers, to know that I appreciate you VERY MUCH! And I do not think you are greedy for wanting raises. It is not that I do not want teachers to have raises.....it is just that I feel it is wrong for the district to cut programming and increase class sizes saying we have no money and then turn around and give raises. It sends the wrong message. I completely agree with you about the extreme value of smaller class sizes. It is better for the students and better for the teachers. When the district is increasing class sizes and cutting programs yet still giving raises, it feels like those raises are on the backs of our children. I think most teachers are rational, appreciate their position, appreciate the seniority they have built up within the Ladue district and appreciate that, when the economy is better, we will continue to increase pay. However, I do not like the scare tactics the district is using right now and all the propaganda about keeping "competitive" with other districts. I don't stay "competitive" with what all my neighbors buy or spend money on because I can only afford what MY budget allows. I am PRO teacher and PRO prop. one. I just think we need to hold off raises right now if, in fact, the district feels our funds are so low that class sizes cannot return to preferred levels right now and if we are still talking about programming cuts.
Jill Moore April 01, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Ran out of character space above but I also wanted to mention this. I am willing to give MORE than the amount of money Prop. One will cost my family if it means we can get class sizes to preferred levels, keep all programming AND give TEACHERS raises. I am told it is a monumental task, but I am currently trying to work with the district on ideas for a charitable fund to which parents could donate annually. The fund would then be divided up evenly amongst district teachers. Here is my thought. A 2% raise on the average Ladue District Teacher's salary is $1,200 per year. However, if we averaged a $100 donation per student, teachers could see a check closer to $2,200 per year from the charitable fund. Of course, some parents will not be able or willing to donate but some parents will donate MORE than $100 per student they have in the district. I'm TRYING to come up with a solution that would make the teachers and moms like me happy. Like I said, it's not that I don't want the teachers to make more money.....I just don't want my children paying the price by losing programming and having these large class sizes. If we can get back to Ladue preferred class sizes, keep programs AND give teachers raises, then I'm all for it and I'll happily write a check over and above the Prop. One increase.
Jill Moore April 01, 2012 at 12:53 AM
well enlighten us then Mark......what would you do to solve the problem?
Jill Moore April 01, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Fixed Income. I still support Prop. One. I really do believe our schools and our property values are in grave danger if we don't pass Prop. One. However, I agree with you that we all need to be more vocal and more involved in how the budget is spent from here on out. We need to make sure the district will NOT be back with another levy in the near future and we need to get our class sizes back down. I do not think the district is currently asking too much but I DO disagree with some of their plans for spending in the next few years. There is still much time to get involved and affect change in the budget process. I would urge you to vote yes in support of the children, then join me in holding the district's feet to the fire to make sure not one penny is mis-spent from here on out.

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