Prop 1 Tax Levy, Ten Facts You May Not Know

Know the facts about how the Prop 1 Tax Levy impacts your community schools.

Ladue School District has held several informational meetings thus far regarding Prop 1 tax levy and will continue to do so until it goes to vote on April 3, 2012. This is a time to ask questions and get answers.

For those of you who have been unable to attend, Patch has put together a summary of information given in those meetings.  All information was taken from the Ladue School District Prop 1 website.

It is up to you whether Prop 1 passes or not. But, consider this; the cost of the proposed tax levy is $7.76 per month per $100,000 (appraised value of a residence). That is basically the cost of one morning coffee and one muffin.

Voters ask the Ladue School District to tighten up their spending. Where can the residence of Ladue tighten their spending in order for children to receive the best education possible? A cup of morning coffee perhaps? You decide.

Top ten facts about Prop 1:

  1. Ladue School District has seen a nine percent decline in district revenue over the past five years, while they have realized significant increased enrollment and expenses. Even with $7 million cut from expenditures over the past four years, without Prop 1 passing, cuts to academic programming, staffing and student services will be significantly impacted.

  2. With Prop 1, the district can better maintain current staffing and programming levels and therefore maintain the highly competitive district for which Ladue School District is known.

  3. In a May/June 2010 report published in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis publication REVIEW, stated that property values remain higher in areas with above-average schools. Residences within the school district who do not have children who attend Ladue Schools are still impacted positively.

  4. The Ladue School District believes that with the passing of Prop 1 the district will return to financial stability for two assessment cycles (four years), providing the economy does not weaken further.

  5. Without Prop 1 the district will need to cut up to $2-2.1 million more to balance the budget for the 2012-13 school year. Should this happen, the expenditure cuts will total equivalent of 19% of the district’s current annual expenditures.

  6. With Prop 1, the district will be able to avoid the additional cuts for the 2012-13 school year, which will have a significant impact on current staff, student services and educational programming.

  7. With Prop 1, existing programs will be maintained and moderately improved.

  8. With Prop 1, employee salaries can remain competitive with other districts, enabling retention of high quality staff.

  9. With Prop 1, current class size policies can remain in place. Without Prop 1, class sizes will increase to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines in grades 3-12. (Grades K-2 will remain at the 2011-12 guidelines.)

  10. With Prop 1, the district will be able to open the new Fifth-Grade Center in the 2013-14 school year.

For more information about Prop 1 and how it will impact the Ladue School District, residents, students and the community go to the Prop 1 website.

The chart below uses rounded numbers that show the increase per month corresponding to appraised home value. For more specific information see Prop 1 website question and answer section.

Appraised Home Value

Increase Per Year

Increase Per Month

Per $100,000






$1 million




If Prop 1 does not pass, class sizes guidelines will increase to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines in grades 3-12. (Grades K-2 will remain at the 2011-12 guidelines.)

The following information puts this information in chart form:

Grade Level Ladue Schools Preferred Ladue Schools 2011-12 If Prop 1 Fails Kindergarten 17-19 22 22 1 17-19 22 22 2 17-19 22 22 3 17-19 24 27* 4 20-22 24 27* 5 20-22 27 30* 6 20-23 27 30* 7 20-23 30 33* 8 20-23 30 33* 9 Up to 23 30 33* 10 Up to 23 30 33* 11 Up to 23 30 33* 12 Up to 23 30 33*

* Indicates Department of Elementary and Secondary Education maximum guidelines.

cck March 20, 2012 at 03:52 PM
mjf - Are you suggesting that the LSD should be making a profit off the families who rely on the BASK program? Claudia Krasnoff
BJones March 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM
If those who don't want to pay higher taxes have "greed with no limits", what do we call those who want higher taxes on others (the rich!) to pay for their own wants? Is that not "greed with no limits"? I'm sure there is a warning about "coveting thy neighbor's goods" somewhere...
BJones March 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Have we forgotten that our property tax rate has gone up from 5.131% in 2008 to 6.275% in 2011, a 22.3% increase in just the last 4 years? Can we afford to continue to layer on more new taxes?
atf March 21, 2012 at 12:42 AM
James Baer - How dare you!! I am greedy because I want to keep the money that I have earned? I am greedy because I want to hold the inept School Board accountable for their misspending and poor decision making? Unbelievable.
Mary Williamson March 21, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Rhonda Weiche March 21, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Mary, The school is required to provide school bus routes for students who live up to 3.2 miles away or further from the school. Thanks
ForTheKids March 21, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Not sure where on Conway you live, but our school bus rides on Conway every day and it is very full. In the afternoon, the bus would drop off most of the kids before it gets to Conway. Just at my children's bus stop there is nine children that ride the bus regulary.
Rhonda Weiche March 21, 2012 at 03:38 AM
The school has held several informational meetings. They have given people the ability to ask questions and get accurate answers to those questions including questions about the budgets and how funds are spent. Here is information below about the final such meeting before April 3th voting. See below: LHWHS Parent Organization Ladue Horton Watkins High School 1201 S. Warson Road, 63124 Room 116 Monday, March 29 at 7 p.m.
atf March 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Rhonda - They are NOT required to provide bus transportation to students that live 3.2 miles or less from their school. Thanks.
Mark S. Krasnoff March 21, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Some of the above ideas may have merit, but they are not enough to justify a vote against Prop 1. I offer a line by line response. It will require a few replies to fit. 1. School buses are an efficient means of transporting kids, allowing the roads to be less crowded and allowing working parents to meet their obligations at work. The whole economy is better off with bus service for the kids. Picture Ladue and Clayton Roads, Price, Warson, McKnight, and others with a car for every 1-2 kids on a school bus. Personally, I would not be opposed to public money providing public--that is school bus--transportation for all kids from a location within the school district to any school, public or private, within the district. (I am not trying to introduce a voucher debate, and I do not favor public tax money paying for private school, but transportation is transportation.) I'd like to see tax money flowing more readily from us all, as we all share the benefits of the efficiencies of public services where they exist. 2. Our Superintendent herself has a salary roughly comparable to the middle range salaries of other good districts' superintendents in the area. That is apples to apples. I do not know enough about the staffing of that office to refute the idea that some savings might be realized there, as it pertains to others in the office. It is a matter of good governance, and I am all for that. Any potential savings here are not enough to justify a vote against Prop 1.
Mark S. Krasnoff March 21, 2012 at 05:58 AM
3, 4, 5, 6: Teacher and superintendent travel expenses, other line item changes over a 1 year period: the question here is cost versus value and what were those costs unreasonable and in need of correction, or were costs the previous year down due to the very down economy at the time? We may have had a dip in travel costs, as the cost of fuel was down last year. You brought up a line item expense, implying it was exorbitant without really drilling down on the facts. You don't make the case that the change was due to waste. Again, the dollar amounts do not impact the budget enough to vote no on Prop 1. 7. Before and after school care - I pay for this and use it part of the time, and would gladly pay "market rates". This change will be minuscule in the overall tax and budget debate. My theme would be: let us meet the school district's clear need with Prop 1, i.e., on the order of 7 figures, and then make improvements in efficiency where we can, to save on the order of 5 figures. If you can find enough waste and inefficiency to get to 6 figures of savings, without impacting the quality of education we need, I am for it. That will not obviate the need for the 7 figures. Your search has not found that kind of money.
Mark S. Krasnoff March 21, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Please read these responses chronologically, starting 2 comments below this one. Thanks. 8. This has been addressed already very well by others in favor of Prop 1. Whether you like it or not, and I like it for the reasons others have stated, this one you cannot change. Kids should logically attend the public school where their parent teaches. It has been this way for a long time for good reason. A change in that is an entirely different debate. It is not the solution to our present immediate problem. 9. Buying Westminster's property when prices were down was a logical long term economic decision with long term planning and up front cost. We tax payers will reap the benefits in the long run. 10. The old early childhood building on Clayton Road is a depreciated asset. If you know anyone who wants to buy it for a price to cover the future operating needs outlined by our Prop 1 campaign, I for one would sell at that price. Too bad, but I don't think we could actually use that money for the operating budget.
Mark S. Krasnoff March 21, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Reply to mjf: it is just plain wrong to state that Mr. Baer does not care about the kids. Do you live in his heart and know his motivations better than he does? Are we to question each others' motives and not our fellows' arguments? I would never suggest that you would hesitate to pay more in taxes if you weren't of the genuine opinion that the money would go to wasteful extravagance, overpay of administrators and teachers and just plain bad fiscal management. If you thought it would enhance the kids' education, I know you would be the first to support it. We both know you and I could think of no better use of the money except to fight poverty and disease among the truly unfortunate kids throughout the world. So, our motivations are in sync, and we are only debating whether the money will benefit the kids' education. I really think it will. I think the class sizes are too big and more money will at least keep them from getting even bigger. I think kids need good physical education, and we have some great and inspiring teachers there who perform a valuable service we should pay to maintain. If we can also get going on some budget savings along the lines you suggested, we could perhaps hire one more teacher or even one in each elementary school, and thereby get those class sizes down. We can work together towards having the best public schools in the State or region! Let's do it. Together.
CreveCoeurDad March 21, 2012 at 07:06 PM
"Look at this map and tell me how any students in the district could possibly live further than 3.2 miles from their respective schools, especially any buses that would use Conway Road:" Buses travel on roads, they don't fly. The amazing thing about Google Maps is, they can provide the actual driving distance between any two points in the district. Two cases in point: 1336 Arrowhead Dr to LHWHS - 4.6 miles http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=hilltop+rd+olivette&ix=seb&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1680&bih=935&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=YyNqT-6wNKSysgLqsPibCQ&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=3&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg 2100 East Dr to LHWHS - 3.6 miles http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=hilltop+rd+olivette&ix=seb&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1680&bih=935&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=YyNqT-6wNKSysgLqsPibCQ&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=3&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg
CreveCoeurDad March 21, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Quite frankly, I think the Vote No people have got a point - there are more savings to be found, we just need to think outside the box. Eliminate those buses that aren't required by the state? Sure, and why'll we're at it, let's have it replace Phys Ed at all the schools. Think how much money we could save by cutting all the PE teachers!!! Every student will be required to run/walk 5 km to and from school each day. Those who live closer will simply be required to do extra laps at the school until they reach their 5 km quota. Start those students out in kindergarten, and by high school Ladue will have Cross Country and Track teams that will be the envy of the state! We'll be unbeatable - and save money in the process! Reduced Heating Costs - Heating costs have risen tremendously over the last few years and it's unconscionable that in tough economic times we continue to spend money on such trivial things as excessive heat when our students and teachers already have coats and gloves. Now, I'm not saying students should freeze, but anything above 60 deg. F is simply a luxury we can't afford. Students who can't afford a coat or gloves can be provided one by the Parent Associations or local charities such as Goodwill. In addition, increased class sizes should also result in warmer classrooms, so there's a double cost savings benefit.
CreveCoeurDad March 21, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Additional Cost Savings Ideas: Compressed School Year - The state requires us to have 1044 hours of instruction per year, and lays out requirements for minimum attendance days and maximum length of day . But nowhere do I see a restriction on a maximum number of instruction days per week. So why don't we go to having school 7 days a week? If we went to a 7 day/week, six hour/day schedule, and held school from Oct 1 to Apr. 1 with no breaks, we could meet the state hour requirements, exceeding it by 48 in fact, and vastly reduce any air conditioning costs that have risen tremendously over the past few years. Reduced costs and a longer school year, who could be opposed? Not only that, with a compressed year in place, teachers would be free to pursue additional employment opportunities during the extended summer break. For instance, by following an Oct. 1-Apr. 1 schedule, teachers would be perfectly positioned to be employed as hot dog and beer vendors at Busch Stadium during the Cardinals regular season. This increased income, plus tips, would surely mean the district wouldn't need to pay the teachers nearly as much. No other school district would offer such a benefit! Now, if the Cardinals make the playoffs, this could present some conflict with the school year, but day games are few, and we do have a few additional days built in to the schedule to compensate. And hey, it's the Cardinals, so what's a few additional days off if we're in the World Series!
CreveCoeurDad March 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Yet Another Cost Saving Idea Early Graduation - Ladue is blessed with some of the brightest students in the state, so let's take advantage of this by graduating them early. The district should start giving every student completing the 8th Grade or higher the GED. (An added cost, yes, but the district could also make parents pay for the early GED.) Those who pass would no longer need the district's services and would be free to proceed on to the Community College of their choice. Surely if our teachers work hard enough, we could get at least half of our high school students that now take four years to graduate to graduate by the end of 10th grade. At $12K per student per year, 350 fewer students in the high school translates into savings of $4.2 million! We should be getting a tax reduction, not talking about a tax hike! Not only that, but with the creation of the 5th/6th grade center at the West Campus, which we could now afford, space will be freed up at the Middle School. The reduced high school class can them be transferred to LMS, renamed Ladue Upper, and the high school sold off. Given that the high school occupies prime Ladue real estate, the price the district could get for it should be tremendous, paying off all the district's long term debt and lowering our taxes even further! See what we can do if we just put our minds to it! I'm sure there are lots more savings to be had if we just all work together instead of fighting over this silly tax increase!
Fixed Income March 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I am told that MICDS does not have PE classes for high school students. They use the time for an extra academic class. All kids either participate in sports teams or work out after school. I think they have a good point. If you are on the cross country team, it is unlikely you are going to get any benefit out of PE.
Mark S. Krasnoff March 22, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Now that we have agreed to keep the discourse at a civil and respectful level, without doubting our motivations, let me sum up what your last post and mine say to me. Cutting all bus service, which I think is obviously not an efficient option in terms of overall conservation of time, money, and gas/oil resources, will still not close the financial gap the district faces at a time when class sizes are already too high. The other proposed cuts will also not close the gap. Some are not even available cuts, as the administrative budget "costs" it turns out, were already in the budgets in a different category. Furthermore, the tax increase would in fact prove temporary, and will, when property values rise again. I believe the Hancock Amendment makes sure of that. Since you and I have not sold our houses during the dip, we benfitted from a temporary reduction in assessments and taxes without any real cost to ourselves. The school district has been squeezed as a result. We live in a community of high affluence and low tax rates, and we need to meet our civic responsibilities. Since no one on the "No" side has found us the answer, the answer must be "Yes!!" to Prop 1. We can sleep well knowing we have done right by the next generation. As Churchill pointed out, the American people always do the right thing, once we have exhausted all other options:)
Rhonda Weiche March 22, 2012 at 02:15 AM
To Mark S. Krasnoff: You make a lot of sense. I lived in a community where there were no school bus services. Public school start times were from 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. (high school students were the later start time). The traffic was horrible. Parents had a very tough time getting to work on time because of traffic issues. I believe if the school district would have provided bus service, it would have been less stressful for parents and for students. Maybe there are places to cut spending. But, I believe that the numbers alone do not tell the whole story. Could spending be tightened? perhaps. Should prop 1 be passed? that is up to voters. Should every child/teen be offered high quality education? Absolutely yes. I am fairly new to St. Louis and I don't know the history of STL public schools. I wonder if when things began to go bad for that school district if they would have ever thought they would loose their accreditation? Where did THEIR decline begin and how did it go SO far that they no longer are accredited? I do not have kids in Ladue schools and I do not live in Ladue, but I hope the yes and no supporters can somehow bridge the gap and work together for a solution that satisfies both sides and one that puts the education of students first. to mjf: You do make some valid points and have the ability to articulate them well. But, to call the board "inept and lacking true leadership" is not the best approach to persuade others to your side.
Fixed Income March 22, 2012 at 02:52 AM
What would you call a board that went into deeper debt during a recession while running a deficit? Inept is kind. This board has show no interest in reaching out to those who disagree. They only seem to care about their own constituencies. Let me ask you, Rhonda, knowing full well the divisive nature of the campaign that would result for their decision to put this on the ballot, and knowing they need us to vote for the tax increase and knowing full well who the leaders of the Vote No Campaign were likely to be, wouldn't you think it was their duty to ask for a meeting to explain themselves? That is what the former Supt. used to do. This bunch just figures they can somehow find enough votes to get what they want. Let's get one thing straight. They showed very bad judgment. They want taxpayers to bail them out. They told people there was no proof buying Westminster would require a tax increase when every lucid person on earth should have know it would. Now, they are failing to tell voters that their own projections show this tax increase isn't enough for their plans. They show a deficit in the future without another tax increase and if they embark on new spending adventures, they will dig us deeper and then be back saying, "well you voted for it." Is this the honest way to "persuade others to your side?"
3boys3schools March 22, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Mjf - goody for you! Some of us cannot leave work to drive one kid home from the high school, one kid home from the middle school, and one from elementary school. I am so happy that you have the luxury of not only sending your kids to private school but also not having to be at work during the day.
Rhonda Weiche March 22, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Mjf: Bottom line, everyone has a unique situation when it comes to how they care for their children, including getting them to and from school. I agree that even 15 minutes spent with your child captive is precious. I didn't say it was a burden to anyone. I am saying as 3boys3schools pointed out that some parents don't have the luxury you speak of. That's all. And yes $950,000 is a lot of money. I am sure that school officials could address why they believe it is necessary to do so. Fixed Income: I believe if I was asking for money from my community, I too would like the opportunity to answer questions. And I would think the community would want to ask those questions and get answers,
ForTheKids March 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
MJF - I think Kirkwood's bus transportation is actually pretty close to Ladue's. They provide free transportation for elementary student's who live 1 mile or more from school... which is exactly what Ladue provides too. For Middle School and High School students at Kirkwood the distance goes up to 1.5 and 2 miles neither of which is the 3.2 miles you are suggesting. Here are the links: http://kirkwoodschools.org/northglendale/upload/4bc7250d55153.pdf http://www.ladueschools.net/district/content/main/bus-information.shtml
cck March 22, 2012 at 01:16 PM
From the Kirkwood website: Kirkwood residents are eligible for free transportation if they meet the following criteria: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – Students that live 1 mile or more from school. MIDDLE SCHOOL – Students that live 1 1⁄2 miles or more from school. HIGH SCHOOL – Students that live 2 miles or more from school.
MomOfThreeBoys March 22, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Fixed Income What does MICDS not having PE have to do with Prop 1? There is no mention of PE classes being cut at the high school level, and if you look at the MO graduation requirements, http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/sia/Graduation_Handbook_2010.pdf (Page 5), one credit of Physical Education is required for all students to graduate from Missouri public schools.
ForTheKids March 22, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Your example makes no sense... Reed is an elementary school. So 1.98 miles would definitely get a bus at Kirkwood school district. The only difference I see is a 1/2 mile more for Middle School and 1 mile more for High School. If you are suggesting going to Kirkwoods model I think a lot of us would not have an issue...but that wouldn't get you anywhere near 950,000 dollars.
CreveCoeurDad March 22, 2012 at 05:07 PM
All your carping about the state standard for buses completely misses the point that you are applying a rural standard to an urban environment. In case you hadn't noticed, Missouri is a largely rural state - applying a 1 mile standard to Texas or Dent county probably wouldn't make sense, although that has pretty much been the tradition for urban environments like St. Louis for as long as I can remember. Just because the state has a minimum requirement for bus service doesn't mean it is necessarily a good idea for an environment such as Ladue. That said, I could see some cuts, especially at the high school level where the buses can be pretty empty, but I seriously doubt you'll see any support for cutting elementary buses, where they are heavily used. Also, your assertion that the revenue decline is temporary is incorrect. It is permanent, due to the Hancock Amendment. The district is currently using their full authority to tax. Any increase in property values may only increase revenues by the rate of inflation, any excess increase means that the tax rate must be rolled back. Combine the two, and real, not inflated revenue is locked at the current rate. The only possible way to increase real revenue at that point is to have higher value buildings replace lower value ones or to increase the tax rate.
CreveCoeurDad March 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
"If these 3 premises are true, then every school district in the state should need a tax levy increase. Why is this not happening?" Because other districts have not reached their tax rate cap and have retained the flexibility to up their effective tax rate and maintain revenue neutrality. Let's apply a few numbers to make this rather complicated concept more clear. Say we have two school districts, Dist. A with an authorized tax rate of $3.00 per $100 of assessed valuation ($3.00/$100) and Dist. B with an authorized rate of $4.00/$100. However, authorized does not mean that is what is actually charged. For various reasons, a district may actually tax at a lower rate. Say both districts actually charge $2.75/$100, and bring in revenue of $5M. Let's say there is only one type of property in these districts, assessed at 19% of market value, so that means there is $950M of property in each district. Now the bubble hits and the property is only worth $800M. Both districts will attempt to maintain revenue neutrality, so Dist. B is allowed to raise their actual rate to $3.29/$100, still below their cap, but maintaining the $5 million. Dist. A is capped at $3.00/$100 and sees it's revenue fall to $4.56M. If property values return to $950M,with no inflation, Dist. B will lower the rate back to $2.75 and still bring in $5M, but Dist. A must lower it's rate to $2.53 and only bring in $4.56M. Ladue is in Dist. A's situation.
cck March 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Fixed Income - There have been 11 meeting so far about Prop 1 to which the public has been invited. They are on the Prop 1 website. The 12th is Thursday, March 29 at 7 PM at the High School.


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