Frequently Asked QuestionsDownload a PDF Version of the FAQs Update March 12, 2009
Wydown Middle School
Bond Issue Information
What is Proposition S?
Proposition S is a $51 million bond issue that will be placed before Clayton voters on April 7, 2009. It will fund improvements, additions and renovations to Clayton High School, Captain Elementary School, Glenridge Elementary School, Meramec Elementary School and the Family Center. Plans for projects at each school were developed collaboratively with over 200 parents, community members, students and staff as part of the District's recently completed Facilities Master Plan.
What will be on the ballot?
The specific language on the April 7 ballot will read as follows:
"Shall the Board of Education of the School District of Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri borrow money in the amount of fifty one million dollars ($51,000,000) for the purpose of constructing, renovating, expanding, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities for school purposes, including providing new and renovated science labs and other instructional space to support programs and curriculum, enhancing safety and energy efficiency, and improving HVAC, electrical, plumbing and technology systems at the elementary schools, high school and family center, and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof, resulting in an estimated increase to the debt service property tax levy of $0.29 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district is estimated to increase from $0.333 to $0.623 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property."
What will Proposition S cost?
Proposition S is estimated to increase the District's debt service tax rate by 29 cents, from $0.333 to $0.623 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. This would amount to an increase in taxes of $275.50 per year (or $5.30 per week) on a home valued at $500,000.
Is it $51 million or 29 cents?
Actually, it's both. Fifty-one million dollars is the projected cost to fund the projects identified at Clayton High School, Captain Elementary, Glenridge Elementary, Meramec Elementary and the Family Center. Twenty-nine cents is the maximum estimated amount that the District will have to increase its debt-service tax rate in order to fund $51 million worth of construction. The 29-cent increase allows the District to:
- Account for some potential volatility in the current interest rate market.
- Structure the bonds in such a way that we can likely return with a no-tax-rate increase proposal to either replace or renovate Wydown Middle School in April 2010.
- Potentially issue shorter-term bonds and save on overall interest costs.
Why is this bond issue needed?
It's been 16 years since the District completed its previous facilities master plan, which was finished being constructed almost 10 years ago. The new master plan represents a community solution on how we could improve our school buildings to better support our students and maintain Clayton's position as one of the nation's top school districts. Proposition S will do exactly that by providing funds for renovations and improvements that will allow us to:
A recent public opinion survey showed that about 80 percent of our residents believe that the education provided by Clayton schools is as good or better than area private schools. Furthermore, more than 93 percent of those surveyed believed that it is vitally important to our property values to maintain the quality of our public schools. Prop S will maintain the quality of Clayton's schools for our students now and in the future.
- Facilitate state-of-the-art teaching and learning in science by providing new science labs and classrooms at Clayton High School and each elementary school.
- Repair and update infrastructure, including heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems, to make our buildings healthier and more energy efficient.
- Strengthen our dated technology infrastructure to meet current and future curriculum needs.
- Make our early childhood and elementary school campuses safer, more secure and more accessible by improving student and traffic circulation.
- Provide additional classroom and learning space at each elementary school to facilitate specialized instruction, including grade-level support, OASIS tutoring, enrichment and other individual and small-group learning.
- Create additional, revenue-generating early childhood education classroom space at the Family Center to meet the community's early childhood needs.
- Repair and upgrade dated facilities at Clayton High School to meet the needs of athletics and performing arts programs.
What will Proposition S accomplish at each school?
Proposition S will provide funding to carry out the projects identified in the District's Facilities Master Plan at Clayton High School, Captain Elementary, Glenridge Elementary, Meramec Elementary and the Family Center. Highlights of those projects can be reviewed at www.clayton.k12.mo.us/propS.
How does Proposition S reflect the input and recommendations of the approximately 200 people who helped craft the Facilities Master Plan?
The Facilities Master Plan made recommendations for improvements to address needs and update facilities at all of the Districts schools. The Master Plan was unanimously approved by the Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee and by the Board of Education. Proposition S provides funding for all of the recommendations made for the Family Center, Captain Elementary, Glenridge Elementary, Meramec Elementary and Clayton High School. The Board of Education also recognized the needs at Wydown Middle School that were addressed in the Master Plan but elected to spend some additional time studying those needs and returning with a proposal for Wydown next year.
Shouldnt the District wait until it has completed a search for a new superintendent before it commits to making millions of dollars worth of improvements to its schools?
The Facilities Master Plan represents the input of approximately 200 Clayton community members, parents, students and staff. The Board of Education is just beginning its search for Claytons next superintendent, which will also be a process that will involve gathering input from the Clayton community. It would not be fair to those who helped develop the Master Plan or to those who will participate in the superintendent search to allow one process to restrain the other. More importantly, it would not be in the best interest of Clayton students to postpone renovations and improvements to their school buildings.
The St. Louis County Assessor announced yesterday that the median home value in the School District of Clayton declined by 5.8 percent for 2009. How does this impact Proposition S?
The decline in residential property values will be more than offset by an increase in commercial assessed value of 7.9 percent. When you factor in the increase in commercial property values, there was actually an overall increase in Claytons assessed value of 3 percent. This is a positive development because the assumptions used in estimating the 29-cent increase for Proposition S were based on there being no increase in total assessed value. Therefore, we know that the 29 cents will be more than enough to generate the $51 million needed to fund the projects outlined in Proposition S. Furthermore, decreased residential values will actually reduce the impact of the 29-cent increase on the individual homeowner, with the increased commercial values more than picking up the difference.
Wydown Middle School
Why is Wydown Middle School not included in Proposition S?
The Board of Education decided to postpone seeking funding for improvements at Wydown Middle School in order to devote some time to considering additional options for the middle school. The delay will provide the Board with the time needed to engage the Clayton community in a conversation about which option for our middle school is truly the best for our students, our parents, our patrons and our neighbors.
Is the District still considering moving the middle school to the former CBC High School Campus?
No. The School District of Clayton Board of Education voted unanimously at their March 4, 2009, meeting to:
Read the letter that was sent to Washington University notifying them of the Board's decision.
- end all discussions with Washington University concerning the proposed transfer of the Wydown Middle School property and
- abandon any consideration of moving Wydown Middle School to the former CBC High School campus.
Why is the District waiting to engage the Clayton community in a dialog about the future of Wydown Middle School?
With Proposition S on the April 2009 ballot, the District needs to maintain a focus on meeting the facility needs that were identified at the Family Center, Clayton High School and the three elementary schools. At their March 4 meeting, the Board directed the Districts administration to put together a task force to evaluate future options for Wydown Middle School, with the goal of bringing results back to the Board by this fall. A recommended option for Wydown Middle School could then be placed on a ballot for voter approval as early as April 2010.
Ive heard that the bonds for Proposition S are structured in a way that will allow the District to return to voters next year with a proposal for a zero-tax-rate increase bond issue to address Wydowns needs. Is that true? If so, would that zero-tax-rate increase just going to fund an addition? Or could it be enough to fund a full or partial replacement of the middle school?
The District was very conservative in estimating the 29-incent increase and structuring the bonds for Proposition S. A big reason for this conservative approach was a desire to create the best possible situation in which to return to voters next year with a bond issue to address needs at Wydown Middle School. Presenting voters with a zero-tax-rate increase proposal to fund improvements at Wydown will significantly increase the bond issues opportunity for success. In addition to fully funding all of the projects identified in Proposition S, the successful passage of a 29-cent increase will position the District to:
Even if it wont require a tax-rate increase, can the District move forward with a construction project for WMS without voter approval of another bond issue?
- Fund the renovations/additions to Wydown (as identified in the Master Plan) with a zero-tax-rate increase bond issue on April 2010 or
- Fund a full or partial replacement of Wydown Middle School with a zero-tax-rate increase or very minimal tax rate increase in April 2010
Absolutely not. Even if a future proposal for Wydown Middle School were a zero-tax-rate increase proposal, the District would still need voter approval to sell the bonds. Proposition S would authorize the sale of $51 million worth of bonds, which is exactly enough to fund projects at CHS, the elementary schools and the Family Center. Therefore, the District would need to return for voter authorization to sell bonds in order to move forward with a project for its middle school.
Does the District know what it will cost to address the needs at WMS?
Yes, the District does know what those options could cost. The estimated costs associated with improving Wydown depend on how those improvements are addressed. The following were developed as alternatives during the master planning process:
Bond Issue Information
- A renovation and addition to the current school is estimated to cost $19.6 million.
- A new middle school, which would be sized to meet the needs identified in the master plan, is projected to cost $45 million.
- A partial tear down and replacement of the current school is estimated to cost $34 to $36 million, depending on the final design.
What is a bond issue?
A bond issue is a traditional way for schools to borrow money to pay for capital projects such as replacing aging building systems or making improvements to school buildings. In Missouri, any bond issue requires voter approval.
How does a bond issue work?
When voters approve/pass a bond issue, our school district obtains bids and sells bonds to the purchaser who offers the lowest interest rate. The district uses the funds to complete the capital projects, and pays back the debt over time typically around 15 years. This process is similar to a home loan. When you purchase a home, you borrow money at a specific interest rate. You make payments on that loan, which include principal and interest, over a period of years. A certain amount of your regular income is budgeted to make those payments.
How do schools use bond issues to benefit students?
Bond issues allow schools to pay for costly repairs, renovations and additions over time instead of having to pay all at once. They allow schools to focus most of their day-to-day operating budgets on classroom instruction instead of repairs or construction.
Has the District ever split projects into multiple bond issues? If so, when and why?
Yes. The District addressed the needs identified in its 1993 Facilities Master Plan over the course of two bond issues in 1994 and 1997. The bond issue in 1994 funded renovations, additions and seismic retrofitting at each elementary school and Wydown Middle School. The 1997 bond issue helped construct the Clayton High School Commons and the Center of Clayton, renovated the Little Theater and seismically-retrofitted the existing academic building at CHS.
Do other school districts phase in capital projects over multiple bond issues? What examples can you give?
Yes, all the time! In addition to Claytons recent history of splitting projects into multiple bond issues, area districts such as Parkway and Rockwood have routinely used bond issues as a regular means for addressing capital expenditures. The Rockwood School District is on a schedule of placing a bond issue to address facility needs for various schools before voters every two years.
Can the funds be used in any other way?
No. The money from bond issues can only be used for capital expenditures such as major maintenance, repair, renovation and certain technology costs. Bond funds may not be used for operating expenses such as salaries and benefits, transportation costs, utilities, textbooks or other supplies.
How much debt does Clayton have?
Clayton has been fiscally conservative and currently only has $19.57 million, or 1.9 percent of its assessed value, in debt. The state allows school districts to borrow up to 15 percent of their assessed value.
When was the last bond issue in Clayton?
1997. The 1997 bond issue helped construct the Commons at Clayton High School and the Center of Clayton, renovated the Little Theater and seismically-retrofitted the existing academic building at CHS. A bond issue in 1994 funded renovations, additions and seismic retrofitting at each elementary school and Wydown Middle School.
If the bond issue does not pass, will our tax rate go down?
Not for several years. As old bonds continue to be paid off, however, the tax rate would eventually be reduced unless voters approved another bond issue.
What would happen if it does not pass?
The most critical maintenance and repair needs would still have to be addressed. Some maintenance and repair work would have to be deferred or completed in very small pieces over an extended period of time. To pay for this, more money would have to be spent from the day-to-day operating budget (the part that normally pays for classroom instruction and supplies). The remaining projects would be postponed indefinitely.
What is the difference between a bond issue and a tax levy proposal?
A bond issue is used when a school district wants to borrow money for major repairs, new construction or to purchase large amounts of equipment. This loan is paid off over time using funds that can only be used for the purpose of paying off debt. An operating tax levy (such as Prop E in 2003) provides funding for the ongoing day-to-day operations of our schools, such as paying staff and educating students. Funds approved for a bond issue cannot be used to pay for operating expenses.