Ladue Schools OK Staff Cuts To Come If Prop 1 Fails

The district announced plans to move forward with eliminating more than 20 positions. Administrative changes will come regardless of what happens in April.

Teachers in Ladue schools will learn this week if their jobs are being retained as the district goes ahead with plans to trim roughly $1.7 million from the budget, if a $.49 tax levy increase fails at the polls next month.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the district said 22 teaching positions would be impacted. An analysis released earlier this year outlined suggested cuts which could come in case the tax levy question failed.“These individuals deserve to know as far in advance as possible in order to make alternate plans for the next school year, if they choose to do so,” said Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Judy Sclair in the statement.

Under the proposal the following full-time positions would be eliminated:

  • Two (2) elementary school spanish teachers
  • Three (3) elementary school teachers
  • Four (4) teachers at
  • Two (2)teachers
  • Two (2) music positions between grades 4-12
  • Four (4) elementary school Physical Education Teachers would be replaced by teaching assistants.
  • Two (2) Physical Education Teachers (1 high school/1 middle school)
  • One (1) High School Guidance Counselor
  • One (1) position not yet identified

On the administrative level, the district has decided not to fill a vacant assistant superintendent's position for the coming school year and a the duties of a pair of other administrative positions will be re-evaluated and divided up as well.

The administrative changes will happen regardless of how Prop 1 is decided in April.

Fixed Income March 14, 2012 at 04:26 AM
A young girl wrote in about a week ago. She claimed two kids in her math class didn't have chairs. I don't know if it is true, but I have to believe her. So, I ask you. If you were running the Ladue School system and you had a $300k travel and entertainment budget, wouldn't you take out a few hundred bucks out to buy these kids chairs? Wouldn't you think getting these kids chairs was more important than giving the Supt. of Schools, who already makes almost 40% more than the governor of Missouri a raise? We need new priorities that put kids first and administrators somewhere down the list. The way they are running things is not the only way. It is not necessarily the best way. If this board cannot figure it out, they should step aside.
James Baer (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Comments are coming from residents who've not bothered to even attend public board meetings. I know, I'm there along with two or three other people. Arm chair quarterbacking is a big time sport here. Ladue is run very efficiently. Sure, there's room for improvement. The administration is not over staffed. The superintendent is not overpaid. The fact is, there's a faction in the community who hope Ladue fails as a school district, just like they oppose public education everywhere. I can guarantee you one thing, none are parents past or present of Ladue school district children.
mjf March 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM
I'm a product of the public school system, from grade school all the way through getting a master's degree. Your reaction to my comments is typical of the "Vote Yes" side - avoid answering questions about the real issues and when hard questions are asked, resort to making personal attacks on the questioner. I'm not a parent of a Ladue student, but that doesn't mean I'm not a stakeholder in this process. And, I don't have to be a journalist to know that you aren't living up to the standards set by Patch for objectivity in reporting, either. Here is what the Patch website states are its standards for reporting: Quote: "At Patch, we promise always to report the facts as objectively as possible and otherwise adhere to the principles of good journalism. We will count on our many sources to be honest and honorable so that our reporting will reflect that accuracy." The article in today's Post-Dispatch / stltoday.com had more objective details from both sides of this issue than you have had in 3 - 4 stories about it, and the reporter from the Post didn't have to sit through multiple board meetings, either. Here's a prediction - I'll keep being an armchair quarterback, and you'll keep being a lap dog for the Ladue School Board, dutifully putting out their talking points without asking tough questions about the bad choices they are making.
Fixed Income March 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM
And he wonders why the Vote No group won't talk to him.
BMarshall March 14, 2012 at 02:23 PM
On the Ladue district website, it states that budget cuts for 2013 will "eliminate costs for transportation other than required... The state requires students living 3.5 miles or farther from their school to be provided with transportation by the district. In the Ladue School District, 3-4 buses would be required to fill this minimum requirement, as opposed to the 20 being used in the 2011-2012 school year to provide service to students living one mile or more from their school." If you recall, the district chose to continue bus service up to now due to complaints from neighbors of the schools that the carpool lines cause traffic problems on the roads near the schools, such as the large jams we see each morning and afternoon near MICDS and Villa. In addition, not all district residents are as fortunate as mjf in having someone who has a car and is not at work each day at school start and end time. The Post Dispatch article showed that the district's tax rates are nearly the lowest and that the district has been affected more than most districts by other changes in the economy. Other articles have pointed out that the property values in Ladue fell more than those in Clayton (where they did not fall) when the bubble burst. One might speculate that the Clayton district has remained more attractive to homeowners because of the support given to their schools.
mjf March 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM
While criticizing the people who are against higher taxes for not attending Board meetings, Mr. Baer reports that he was at the Board meeting with "two or three" other people. If that is the case, and I'll take him at his word, then most of the people on the "Vote Yes" side weren't there, either. There are +/-3,800 kids attending Ladue schools, and only 2 or 3 parents attend the Board meetings? Is the lack of parent involvement at Board meetings worthy of a Patch article, or is this another fact that will be conveniently ignored?
flyoverland March 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Of course you forget while we have the lowest rate, we have the highest home values. Unless you live in a more modestly priced part of Olivette or Creve Coeur, you are still paying many more dollars than those who live in other districts with higher tax rates. People living in the more average priced St. Louis County neighborhoods are definitely getting a great deal while those living in more expensive homes are getting soaked. If you raised the rates to those found in other more modest communities, no one would buy those big homes and you would see home values and school revenues really drop. The school board is controlled by Olivette, everyone knows that and in fairness, while this isn't a big tax increase for most of Olivette, it is a huge increase in Ladue, Huntleigh and Frontenac. Until parents come to understand the golden goose can and will bite back if provoked and elect a blue ribbon slate of board members who take into account every area of the district, all parents, public and private and those who are retired, I think you are looking at the best you will get.
Gregg Kinney March 14, 2012 at 03:42 PM
mjf- I too am for reducing the buses. However, I didn't know until reading BMarshall's post above that concerns about traffic congestion and neighbors complaints were one of the factors in the decision. The Board has to continually balance competing concerns. They are obviously revisiting this issue every year. This just shows that unless you know all the facts behind a decision, criticism can be uninformed. As to the old LECC property on Clayton Road, as I understand it, any proceeds from the sale of this facility would, by law, go into the "capital" fund, and could not be used to pay for teacher's salaries, etc. Further, the Board has to consider the future needs of the District. It may well be the best decision to hold onto a property we already own should enrollment increase and we need additional space in the future, especially considering the lack of property available in our district and the presumably high cost of purchasing any such property in the future (if available). They have to balance these concerns. Again, without knowing all the facts behind it, criticism can be uninformed. However, I do believe it is our responsibility as residents of the District to put forth ideas, comments and criticisms. Of course, people will disagree, but this will help ensure that the Board makes the most informed decisions possible. I thank all of those who take the time and effort to share their opinions.
Gregg Kinney March 14, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I think you're telling us something we all know - your real estate tax bill is calculated based on the value of your house. Yes, if your house is worth more, you will pay more in taxes. That is the structure of our tax system in America. Just as if you make more income, you will pay more income taxes. I guess if you want to maximize the bang for your tax dollar buck, you could move to a $20k house and pay little to no taxes. But, you would be living in a neighborhood with $20k houses....that's a choice you make. If you want to maximize the government services you receive for your income tax dollars, earn as little money as possible. Again, your choice. Even with the proposed increase, the tax RATE is one of the lowest.
flyoverland March 14, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Hey Gregg, I am getting pretty tired of your group telling people to move if they don't like paying more. Yeah, they could move. So could you. There's another option and it is to Vote No. That's what I am doing and if all the signs that I see (at least the ones that haven't been stolen) are any indication, so are a lot of others. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLdYC5IkRI8
Marc Bernstein March 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM
MJF You assumptions: 1) Every public school family in the Ladue School zone within 3.5 miles of their school has available cars and drivers in order to get one or more children to school day in and day out and perhaps attend to other responsibilities. 2) If you acknowledge that #1 is not true then it is okay for a second grader (age 7 or 8) to walk 3 miles perhaps alone in any weather that does not preclude school opening. For your statement--you must agree to both of these things wholeheartedly or somehow explain a very different thought process. Marc Bernstein
Gregg Kinney March 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
flyoverland - I didn't tell you to move nor do I want you to. I am glad that I live in a community where people have differences of opinion and are willing to voice them. Otherwise, it would be pretty boring. I was simply trying to illustrate that the tax RATE is how you compare apples to apples.
Marc Bernstein March 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Again MJF Regarding the property. The money raised from the potential sale of that land could not be used for operating expenses--so the teachers would still need to be let go. Legal stuff gets in the way yet again. As far as the property currently sitting fallow--sometimes all institutions have assets that are more valuable and better retained than liquidated immediately. It could be in a few years--Ladue Schools needs it and then buying it back would be worse than having sold it right away. It could be that in a few years the property would be more valuable than now and waiting was wise. In essence you are just pointing to something that seems very obvious but I would contend that your reaction might be described as "knee-jerk" and unwise. Marc Bernstein
MomOfThreeBoys March 14, 2012 at 06:38 PM
So please help me understand that those residents in Ladue and Frontenac do not use Ladue Schools as a marketing vehicle when selling their homes? Just as we all have to maintain our homes for ROI, we also need to insure our schools are funded for the betterment of our community. It is of best interest to everyone, whether or not you have children attending the schools.
JFB March 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I love your rhetorical comment "I would recomend to anyone with an open mind to consider both sides of the argument.", following a plea to visit the pro-tax website. If you TRULY want people to consider both sides, you would refer them to both websites. Of course, you might TRULY believe that only the pro-tax people have open minds, and anyone who disagrees is unreasonable.
St. Louis is a destination March 14, 2012 at 09:18 PM
JFB, Would you like to use this thread to call people in favor "Communists" again?( Like you did in this thread.http://ladue-frontenac.patch.com/articles/ladue-offers-public-meetings-round-tables-to-discuss-ramifications-of-prop-1#photo-9263772). You are the LAST person to lecture anyone on open minds.
Fixed Income March 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM
What is it with all you Vote Yes people that all you care about it selling your house. Where are you going to move? If that is your argument, why did our homes go down in sympathy with the rest of the regional real estate market? If that is your best argument, I smell a huge defeat for Prop 1.
Haley Morgan March 14, 2012 at 10:51 PM
@ MJF- You said, "If that is the case, and I'll take him at his word, then most of the people on the "Vote Yes" side weren't there, either. There are +/-3,800 kids attending Ladue schools, and only 2 or 3 parents attend the Board meetings? Is the lack of parent involvement at Board meetings worthy of a Patch article, or is this another fact that will be conveniently ignored" I would say that most parents who send their kids to Ladue Schools eat, live and breathe what is going on. We have acess to information through Parent Association Meetings, Parent District Council Meetings, emails, etc.. so the need for us to go to Board Meeting is not necessary to know what is going on. There are many other ways for parents stay informed. Anyone who is involved with the Ladue schools would agree that parents are extremely involved.
mjf March 14, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Marc, It's funny that Ladue parents like to compare Ladue schools to private schools, but when faced with some of the less attractive aspects of private school (ie - private transportation and paying market rates for before & after school care), suddenly the private school model doesn't look so hot. To say that public school parents can't find a way to drive or participate in a carpool is beyond ridiculous. Private transportation may not be convenient, but the State does not mandate convenience, only compliance with the 3.5 mile rule. Are you suggesting that people living within the Ladue School district who don't have access to either a car or a carpool with neighbors? Should the school pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for bus transportation to accomodate these kids (who don't exist)? If the Board prefer cutting teachers instead of 16 bus routes & subsidized babysitting, then that's their choice. The taxpayers provide enough funds for an outstanding school system, one of the best in the Midwest and have historically provided excess funds to allow many extravagances not available in other districts (like excess bus transportation at no charge and subsidized before & after school care which, according to the Board, is at rates that are "below market). Now, in this economy the school is faced with either raising taxes or cutting these extravagances, or their 3rd option which motivates voter participation - cutting teachers.
mjf March 14, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Public schools are required to provide transportation, but they are not required to provide FREE transportation (inside of 3.5 miles). Here's a local example, if my neice wants to ride the bus in the Webster school district (less than 3.5 miles to school), then her parents have to pay for the cost of it. That's a choice they are given, but if they choose to drive her to school or use carpool then there is no charge. Not surprisingly, when faced with paying for it at cost or forming carpools, the parents tend to form carpools quickly and easily.
Haley Morgan March 15, 2012 at 12:03 AM
i am absolutely ok with that if that solved the problems facing the district. If is was that simple we wouldn't need a tax increase. I know the mileage was adjusted in the last few years to save money so less kids had bus service. I cannot remember the number but I want to say it was within 2 miles. The bus routes last year were radically altered so the bus made less stops and many buses were eliminated. I know the district was looking at all different ways to cut expenses and I am sure it will be reviewed in future as well.
Melissa Mitchell Pesce March 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I know that some people are voting NO to send a message to the Board & Administration that they are unhappy about the way the District's finances have been handled (I realize there are other reasons for voting NO, too). But, voting NO really affects the kids and teachers way more than it will ever affect the Board. Imagine you own stock in a publicly traded restaurant, like Mortons. Over the past years, your stock has lost value & you believe the reason is because of poor financial decisions by the company's CEO & Board. So, while dining at Morton's your bill comes. The bill is not small -- you are already paying a lot of money for this dinner & you've probably had better food at fancier places. You decide not to tip your waiter in order to send a message to the CEO/Board that you are unhappy about the way the company's finances were handled. But, the one who suffers is the guy at the bottom who received less money because of something someone else did. I understand that by your thought process, if enough waiters are shorted their tips, they can start a revolt & throw the CEO/Board out. And, yes, that could happen. But wouldn't it be more direct just to go after the CEO? If you are unhappy with the Admin/Board, then find a good candidate to support who will support the values you embrace. Mount a campaign to get the current administration out of office. But, don't vote NO just to send a message because that message is being received by the wrong people.
Fixed Income March 15, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Mom, I think it is rather insulting to compare teachers to waiters. Here's the reality. It is impossible to elect a board candidate in this district without the parents support. Impossible. The only way the district gets fixed is when parents come to understand that this entrenched school board is the problem. Look at how many are or were teachers. We need fresh blood. The only defense that seniors have is to vote down tax increases until the parents get the message. Only when a blue ribbon panel of board members is elected with a mandate to stop the spending will this end. We cannot give in to this board and approve this tax increase as a reward for bad judgment. The problem must be removed before the solution can kick in. I know it is hard for parents to stand up to the board, but the time has come for parents to decide do we want to be nice go along get along parents or do we want to find a solution that will result in a better education for our kids? The panel needs to include not just Olivette which currently controls the board, it must include the entire district. It must take into account those who are retired and living on fixed incomes and those who are asked to continually pay more even though they don't use the schools (private school parents). If you continue trying to squeeze the golden goose, it will fly south for the winter and not come back. Fix the board and fix the problem.
St. Louis is a destination March 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Why is there not a "NO" person running for the Board? Is it because it is easier to criticize than actually do something? The "NO" people have known since well before the deadline for declaring for the school board election (and well before the starting date as well), yet no one ran. You obvious have enough time to relentlessly post on this site, why didn't you run?
4MyKids March 15, 2012 at 10:06 PM
There is actually a little more to the bus issue than it being a luxury for parents. My children attend Spoede, where there is very little parking and virtually no place for cars to line up to pick up kids. As I understand, residents have complained about traffic congestion caused by parents lining up to drop off/pick up their children. On several occasions, the Creve Coeur police have been called because of traffic blocking Spoede Road. Our principal strongly encourages parents to have their children ride the bus in order to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion along Spoede, and so that we are a better neighbor to those living in that area. Personally, it is more trouble for me to have my kids ride the bus, and I would prefer to take/pick them up at school. So, it is not only the parents who want the bus service. There are a number of vocal Prop 1 opponents who live near Spoede School who I am sure can attest to the traffic issues.
TransducerX March 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM
"Ladue *was* a strong community because of its strong schools." The constituency in Ladue has aged out of caring about the schools. Their kids are done ergo *they* are done supporting it.
Heather Allen March 19, 2012 at 05:57 AM
For anyone who skims through these comments without reading closely, I'd like to point out that Ladue School District does not have the highest median home value in the area. in 2010, Clayton School District’s median home value was $480,000, compared to $408,000 in the Ladue School District. (The residential property tax rate in Clayton School District is currently set at $3.2759 – higher than Ladue Schools will be if Proposition 1 passes.) I won't argue that Ladue, Huntleigh and Frontenac have the highest home values in the area.
Fixed Income March 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Heather, you hit the nail on the head. Therein lies the problem. The "City" of Ladue sends over 1/2 of all the money to LSD and less than a quarter of the students. Olivette, which sends the most kids, sends only 14% of the total dollars. Olivette controls the school board. 4/7 live in Olivette and after this election it could be 5/7. Olivette has more average priced homes than the rest of the district. If it were in its adjacent districts instead of Ladue its rates would be much higher. I agree, most (not all) Olivette residents are getting a great deal. Meanwhile, the rest of the district which sends few kids to the schools pay all the bills. There is a fable of the Killing of the golden goose. The moral of the story is: "Much wants more and loses all" (Samuel Croxall, 1722). Until the school board understands that it must respect the entire community that pays its bills and doesn't use its services and continues to covet what it believes must be a huge lump of gold inside the golden goose, the goose is going to bite back.
Melissa Mitchell Pesce March 22, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Fixed Income- I think it is rather ironic that you are now coming to the defense of Ladue teachers who have been drug through the mud by the No Group up to this point. They have been referred to as overpaid, robots, and receiving gold-plated salaries. I am a parent with children in this district and I have nothing but the greatest respect for the teachers in this district. They work very hard and have to deal with such a vast spectrum of children. I have repeatedly seen posts about how much less private school teachers make (I have no idea if this is true or not). Perhaps private school teachers don't face the same challenges of public school teachers who have taken on the responsibility of teaching the most gifted of children, and those who are struggling with basic skills --- all in the same classroom. So, let me be very clear. I don't think teachers are like waiters but they are being punished for perceived bad decisions by the Board. That is my only point, and I think most other people got it.
Fixed Income March 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Actually, Mom, the gold-plated quote (and you can go check) referred to administrators. It was the Vote Yes group that changed it to include teachers. The board made this about teachers when it laid off a bunch of them instead of cutting other non-essential line item expenses. But, I guess laying off teachers is a much better way to motivate the parents. Regarding gold plated administrators, you cannot dispute that. The Supt. makes more than the Governor, the Mayor of St. Louis and the County Executive. The job isn't bigger than any of those.


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