Frequently Asked Questions
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Bond Issue Information
What is Proposition W?
Proposition W is a $39.4 million zero-tax-rate increase bond issue that will be placed before Clayton voters on April 6, 2010. It would fund the construction of a new facility to replace Wydown Middle School at its current location. The proposition would keep the Districts tax rate the same. Plans for the new school facility were developed collaboratively with over 280 parents, community members, students and staff as part of the Wydown Tomorrow process.
What will be on the ballot?
The specific language on the April 6 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 thirty nine million four hundred thousand dollars ($39,400,000) for the purpose of constructing, renovating, expanding, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities for school purposes, including construction of a new middle school to be located on the same site as the current Wydown Middle School, and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district is estimated to remain unchanged at the current rate of $0.623 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property."
What will Proposition W cost?
Proposition W will not increase the Districts debt-service tax rate, keeping it at $0.623 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation.
How can we build a new middle school and not increase the tax rate?
The District can ask for the $39.4 million to fund construction without having to raise its debt-service tax rate, meaning that the District can fund the new school with revenue generated from its current tax rate. Each year, the District pays off old debt from previous bond issues. As loan balances decrease and/or assessed value increases, the District is able to borrow more money using its existing debt-service tax rate. The school portion of your taxes stays the same, just for a longer period of time for example, for 20 years as opposed to 8 to 10 years.
Why do we still have to vote on Proposition W if it wont raise the tax rate?
Its the law. Even if the bond issue will keep the tax rate the same, voter approval is still needed.
If Prop W does not pass, will my tax rate go down?
Prop W does not change the
Districts debt service tax rate, which is currently 62.3 cents. If Prop W
fails, the Districts debt service tax rate is not expected to decrease until a
substantial portion of its debt has been paid off, which will take about eight
to ten years. Bonds sold to fund Proposition S will not be paid off until 2029.
Why is the bond issue amount different than the budget included in the Wydown Tomorrow report?
The amount requested in the bond issue was increased to allow for an additional one percent per year in construction cost escalation. This was done as a precautionary measure to guard against a sharp increase in inflation in the event the economy begins to recover more quickly than anticipated.
Why is this bond issue needed?
Every day, the Wydown staff and students make do in a facility that does not meet educational needs. The extent of space deficiencies and their educational implications are not up to Clayton standards. While Wydown's outstanding faculty has maintained high-quality instruction, it is increasingly difficult to educate 21st-century learners in a building from the 1960s. Prop W will provide the community with a facility that reflects Wydowns world-class education and help advance the schools rich curriculum and programs by providing funds that will allow us to:
A recent public opinion survey showed that more than four out of five of Clayton residents believe that the education provided by Clayton schools is as good or better than area private schools. Furthermore, more than 95 percent of those surveyed believed that it is vitally important to our property values to maintain the quality of our public schools. Prop W will maintain the quality of Clayton's middle school for our students now and in the future.
- Make the building match Wydowns rich curriculum
- Minimize the amount of disruption to students during construction
- Increase green space and parking
- Support state-of-the-art technology
- Incorporate principles of green design
- Provide classrooms that are sized to meet state standards
- Support Wydowns strength in fine arts
- Address the need for additional small-group instruction space
- Provide adequate working spaces for teachers
Given the current economic climate, why is the District moving forward with this bond issue?
Actually, the current economic climate is exactly the reason to move forward with a bond issue for Wydown Middle School. Construction costs are at historic lows, with bids on the work from Proposition S coming in an average of 10 to 15 percent under budget. Interest rates are also at historic lows, minimizing the Districts cost to borrow money. All of this, combined with the fact that the District is one of only four schools in the state of Missouri to receive a AAA rating from Standard and Poors, make this an ideal time to undertake a major construction project.
How were options for addressing Wydowns facility challenges developed?
Proposition W is the end result of an intense, transparent study of Wydowns facility challenges through both the six-month Wydown Tomorrow process and 10 years of previous studies. A 16-member committee of community members, parents and staff led the way in developing options and direction. They involved over 280 people in their search to determine how to best meet the needs of Wydowns students.
What options were considered?
Throughout the course of its work, Wydown Tomorrow developed and reviewed 10 architectural schemes: seven designs based on different renovations and additions to the existing structure and three completely new school designs. In addition, the committee considered the $19.6 million plan that was developed as part of the Facilities Master Plan along with previous studies from the past 10 years.
How was the Prop W plan developed?
The Wydown Tomorrow committee assessed the concepts using the parameters and goals provided by the Board, as well as the committees own priorities. In the end, they brought two options forward to the Board. With Wydown Tomorrows work as the foundation and after gathering additional community input, the Board voted unanimously to bring Option Two a new middle school facility to the community for approval. Out of all the concepts vetted by Wydown Tomorrow, the selected option is the least disruptive to the students, provides classrooms and library space that meet state standards, addresses hallway overcrowding and building circulation issues and increases parking and green space.
Why choose to build a new middle school instead of renovating and adding on to the existing school?
Building a new school on the current middle schools site along Wydown Boulevard addresses a countless number of complex issues in ways that cant be accomplished by renovating or adding on to the existing building. The plan for Wydown outlined in the Districts 2008 Facilities Master Plan was a piecemeal approach that did not fully address Wydowns needs. Both the Board of Education and Wydown Tomorrow committee agreed that the 2008 concept would have invested good money into a bad building. Furthermore, building a new school provides significantly more benefits for proportionally fewer dollars than any of the renovation/addition options reviewed by the Wydown Tomorrow committee or previously considered by the District.
happen to students and programs during construction?
Building a new middle
school is the option thats the least disruptive to Wydowns students and
programs. Students remain in the existing school while the new school is being
built. There is no need to relocate students off-site or in trailers or
portable classrooms. The field (for the duration of construction) and the gym
(for 15 months) are the only components that are impacted. Arrangements will be
made with Fontbonne or Washington University to use field and/or gym space
When will construction begin and end?
The current new construction concept will break ground in February 2011
and be done in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
Why was Wydown Middle School not included in Proposition S?
In January 2009, the Board decided not to include Wydown in the April 2009 bond issue so that the Clayton community could discuss and study additional options that might better serve students, parents, patrons and neighbors.
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 school districts to build new facilities and 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.
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. Including the bonds that have been issued to date to fund Prop S, the District currently only has $54.3 million, or 5.2 percent of its assessed value, in debt. The state allows school districts to borrow up to 15 percent of their assessed value.
If the bond issue does not pass, will our tax rate go down?
Not really at least not for several years. As old bonds continue to be paid off, however, the tax rate could eventually be reduced if voters do not approve another bond issue.
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.