Ladue School Board Approves Tax Levy and Bus Changes For The 2011-2012 School Year
The $2.75 levy is low compared to other districts in St. Louis County.
The Ladue School Board on Monday night approved without opposition the district's operating tax levy for the 2011-12 school year.
Jason Buckner, the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance, said in a memo to Ladue School District Superintendent Marsha Chappelow that data from St. Louis County shows that the district has experienced another decrease in assessed valuation. The data, Buckner said, shows that assessed evaluation declined by about 3 percent.
“As you recall, the administration and the Board prepared for a 2.5 percent decrease in property tax funding for the 2011-12 budget,” Buckner said in the memo. “This was an accurate estimation due to the fact that assessments declined about 3 percent, but new construction increased .07 percent. Derived from historical data, it is being estimated that the district will receive 97 percent of the tax revenue generated due to the fact that St. Louis County (fees) and delinquencies will consume the other 3 percent.”
The board voted to set the district operating levy at $2.75 per $100 of assessed valuation. It also voted to set the school district’s debt service levy to 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation without opposition.
At the board meeting, Buckner showed a chart putting Ladue as having the lowest total levy compared to other school districts in St. Louis County. The highest levy, according to the chart, was the Webster Groves School District, which has a $5.5911 operating levy and a $0.0625 debt service level.
The board also approved a policy change stating that all students living one mile or more from school will receive free transportation. That’s a change from when elementary school students living a half a mile away could receive such transportation.
The changes were made to reflect the board's approval of transportation reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. The policy change passed without opposition.
At least two parents commented about the current transportation arrangement.
“I know our route started out smooth, then got rocky because of changes in some other things,” Kelly Waller said. “It seems like when I’ve asked around to other districts, I was absolutely floored and amazed at the length of period of time some of my relatives’ kids are on a bus. And it’s same thing we went through in trying to cut costs wherever we can.”
Waller went onto say that the transportation situation provides a salient point when proposing boosting the district’s tax levy.
“It just seems like going into this tax levy situation as informed as we can keep people as far as how is this impacting people, how the kinks have been worked out,” Waller said. “A little bit of my feeling of ‘gosh, my kid’s not getting home as soon as they did last year’ really went by the wayside when I got more information from other people and what they were experiencing.”
IS THE CHILDHOOD CENTER A MAGNET?
The board continued to heap praise on the district’s new Early Childhood Center, which opened to classes earlier this month in Creve Coeur on the former campus of Westminster Christian Academy.
When discussing the finishing touches on the building, Dan Behler of SM Wilson told the board the center is comparable to—if not exceeding—Clayton’s new middle school in attracting attention.
“I know that’s a very neat building,” Behler said of Wydown Middle School in Clayton. “I think you guys need to know that when it comes to early childhood centers, you guys are the one everybody’s talking about...You’ve got a lot of folks who are very, very jealous of what you’ve got.”
Chappelow said other school districts around the country will be and have been touring the facility. She also said her father has come to take a look at the facility.
“You may not care about his opinion, but I do,” Chappelow said, prompting laughter from the crowd.