Preliminary election results show that Proposition E has PASSED. With all precincts reporting, 5,584 votes (71.54 percent) were cast in favor of Prop E, and Natalie DeWeese and Brad Buchanan received the most votes for the two open Board of Education seats, according to the election results posted on the St. Charles County Election Authority's website.
In 2017, the Board of Education held three open work sessions to discuss next steps as it relates to the Wentzville School District’s continued enrollment growth. The WSD continues to be the fastest growing school district in the State of Missouri, adding on average, over 600 students each year since 2001. The WSD is committed to effectively managing the continued growth while maintaining its exceptional reputation for student achievement and innovative initiatives. Following the passing of Proposition E in 2015, the Board of Education devised the K-6 Plan for Growth which used cash reserves and borrowed funds to build an additional elementary school (Wabash Elementary) simultaneously with the elementary approved by voters (Stone Creek Elementary), and move 6th grade out of the three middle schools to alleviate crowding without having to ask voters for a tax increase. The K-6 Plan for Growth also provided the District time to pay down debt so that our next schools could be built without asking voters to approve a tax increase….which brings us to Proposition E 2018.
Proposition E 2018 Frequently Asked Questions
What is Proposition E 2018?
Proposition E 2018 is a no-tax-increase bond issue that will appear on the April 3, 2018 ballot. It will require 57.14% to pass and would authorize the District to borrow up to $125M in funds by issuing bonds.
What will it pay for?
The borrowed funds would be used for the following:
- Construction of a new, comprehensive high school
- Construction of a new elementary school
- An eight-classroom addition at Peine Ridge Elementary
- A classroom addition at Pearce Hall (6-8 classrooms)
- A classroom addition at Barfield Early Childhood Special Education Center
- New gymnasium at Holt High School
Why is the District not asking to borrow funds to build a middle school?
We have space at our three middle schools as a result of the shift to K-6 at our elementary buildings. It successfully freed up much needed space at the middle schools without a tax increase, allowing the District time to pay down debt and increase its borrowing capacity for this ballot issue to address our continued growth. The Board has expressed they would like additional time before evaluating the effectiveness and longevity of K-6 elementary buildings. If the WSD keeps 6th grade at the elementary buildings, projections indicate the three middle schools have adequate space for the next 8-10 years.
Does this mean we are staying with K-6 elementary buildings?
For the time being, yes. The Board and administration never set a time frame on the shift to K-6, recognizing that it would need to be re-evaluated over time to determine what is best for students and the District.
Why do we need a fourth high school?
Based on the demographic study, Holt and Timberland will be over capacity by 2019 and Liberty will be over capacity by 2021. The capacity of Holt is 1800 and they currently have 1730 students; Liberty is 1700 with currently 1334 students; Timberland is 1800 with 1680 students.
The need for a fourth high school is based not only on the projected growth, but students who are already here in the lower grades. This year's senior class (across all three high schools) has 1,087 students - the smallest grade level in the WSD. There are more than 1,200 students presently in grades 7, 8 and 9 and over 1,300 students in grades 3-6.
The ballot language looks confusing. Is it really not a tax increase?
Here is the complete language that will appear on the April 3, 2018 ballot:
Shall the Board of Education of the Wentzville R-IV School District, St. Charles County, Missouri, borrow money in the amount of One hundred Twenty-five Million Dollars ($125,000,000) for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating, repairing, expanding, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities for school purposes in the District, including, but not limited to (1) constructing, furnishing and equipping a new high school and an elementary school and (2) improving certain of the District’s existing school buildings and related facilities for school purposes, and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof, resulting in an estimated increase in the debt service property tax levy of zero cents ($0.00) per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the Wentzville R-IV School District is estimated to remain unchanged from the current debt service levy of 93.04 cents ($0.9304) per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property. The authorization of said bonds will authorize the levy and collection of an annual tax in addition to the other taxes provided for by law on all taxable tangible property in the District sufficient to pay the interest and principal of said bonds as they fall due.
Yes [ ] No [ ]
By voting yes, stakeholders are not voting for a tax increase. They are voting yes to give the WSD permission to issue bonds and borrow funds. Each year, the debt service tax rate is recalculated. If assessed values decrease, the tax rate can be increased to ensure that principal and interest payments can be made. The last sentence on the ballot serves simply as a reminder of that to voters and the District’s bond counsel advised that it be included.
Why do we need to build more schools and classrooms?
The Wentzville School District is the fastest growing school district in the State of Missouri in the 21st century. Over the past 16 years, the District has averaged more than 600 new students each year. The WSD adds more students every year than are enrolled in an average elementary school in Missouri.
How do we know the growth will continue?
The District has hired an outside consultant to conduct a demographic study three times in the last ten years. The most recent study was completed by Business Information Services, LLC in January of 2017 and estimates the District could add between 5,000 to 6,700 more students in the next ten years. That means by 2027, Wentzville could be one of the largest school districts in the state.
According to the report, “Three statistical models project that Wentzville’s district enrollment will be between 21,581 and 23,180 by 2026-27. This is assuming an annual enrollment growth of between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent. For the last 10 years, the growth rate has been 5.46 percent."
What comes next?
The District will continue to engage in regular, independent demographic studies in order to monitor projected growth and adequately plan for additional students without over expansion.
Where would a new elementary school be located?
The District is working diligently with a realtor to identify a suitable piece of property for the new elementary school.
With all the new construction, shouldn’t there be enough revenue from additional taxpayers to cover the cost of new students?
The median value of a single family home in St. Charles County is $196,900 and the median property tax is $2,300. On average, about $1,800 of that property tax goes to the Wentzville School District. The WSD spends $9,956 per year to educate a student (which does not include construction costs), the lowest rate in St. Charles County. So a new subdivision with 100 homes worth $200,000 each would generate approximately $180,000 per year in tax revenue for the District. The recent demographic report states that on average, each new house in the WSD results in 0.78 new students. That means those same 100 houses would add an average of 78 new students and the District would spend over $775,000 per year to educate those additional students. The District does not have the authority to levy any kind of “impact tax” on home builders.
Local taxes make up the majority (57.3%) of district revenue, followed by 37.5% from the state and 3.7% from the federal government. The remaining 1.5% comes from St. Charles County. The majority of the assessed valuation in the district is residential property, and it makes up 66.8% of the total. Another 16.1% of the assessed valuation is commercial real estate, followed by personal property at 16.8%. The top five commercial properties in the WSD are: General Motors, THF Bear Creek (includes Target, Lowe’s & Sam’s Club), Walmart (Wentzville), Lila, Inc. (Hawk Ridge retailers including Lowe’s and Walmart in Lake Saint Louis) and the Meadows of Lake Saint Louis, which all together make up 5.7% of the total assessed valuation in the District.
Why are you building a new gymnasium at Holt?
Holt has been operating with one gymnasium for some time. They have a “multi purpose” room that essentially serves as a wrestling room, but it does not have bleachers or room to hold games like the other two high schools. It also does not have air conditioning and is virtually unusable in the warmer months of the year and the ceilings are two low for multiple groups to use the space.
Why are you adding on to Pearce Hall?
Pearce Hall is home to the District’s alternative programs that include: High School Alternative Program, Substance Abuse Intervention Program, Middle School Intervention Program, Missouri Options and Annabranch. Each of these programs serves students who have struggled in the traditional school setting. The staff at Pearce Hall have been recognized at a national level for their work addressing the needs of students who are at risk of falling through the cracks. They are trained to recognize the lasting physical and emotional effects of neglect, abuse and dysfunction so they can help students understand those effects in order to move forward and be successful. Pearce Hall employs a number of therapeutic strategies in conjunction with traditional academics to help students that include music, poetry, yoga and boxing. Teachers and counselors have also been piloting a partnership with HOME WORKS for the first time this year, the program designed to strengthen the relationship between school and home to ultimately benefit our students. There are more students who would benefit from these programs but there is currently not enough space at Pearce Hall to meet the needs of every student identified as a good candidate for the intervention programs. Additional space at Pearce Hall would result in additional students benefitting from these innovative programs.
What about renovations at the District’s older schools?
The District is moving ahead with plans to address HVAC issues at a number of the District’s older schools, including Heritage, Wentzville Middle, Holt and South Middle. These plans have been in the works for some time and will proceed regardless of the outcome of the April election.
How can I register to vote?
If you are not currently registered or if you have moved since the last time you voted or changed your name (i.e., marriage or divorce), please request a voter registration card. Voter registration cards can be obtained from any public school, library, city hall, state offices, or the Election Authority. In order to vote in the April 3, 2018 election, you must be registered to vote by March 7, 2018.
For more information or downloadable forms, visit the St. Charles County website or the Missouri Secretary of State website. You may also contact the St. Charles County Election Authority at 636-949-7550.
What are the options if I need to vote absentee?
Registered Missourians who expect to be prevented from going to their polling place on Election Day may vote absentee beginning six weeks prior to an election. Options include voting by mail or in person. For additional details about absentee voting, visit the St. Charles County website.