Prop E: Ensuring high-quality teachers and staff for Mehlville School District students

Prop E: Ensuring high-quality staff for Mehlville School District’s students
Posted on 01/25/2023
Prop EThis proposition was originally filed as Proposition M. However, another Prop M will be on the April ballot in St. Louis County and several municipalities. To avoid confusion, the Mehlville Board of Education changed the name to Proposition E on January 24, 2023.

The Mehlville School District Board of Education voted unanimously at its Jan. 19, 2023, meeting to place a tax levy on the April 4, 2023 ballot. Called Proposition E, the increase would fund competitive salaries to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and support staff for the students of Mehlville School District. 
The Board of Education’s decision to ask for a tax levy increase followed research on comparative salaries in the region, the results of a community survey showing overwhelming support for improved salaries, and a recommendation by the district’s finance committee.
Prop E is an operating tax rate increase of 31 cents for each $100 of assessed value. This means the average annual tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 home would be approximately $118 per year, or just under $10 per month. The increase for an owner of a $300,000 home would be approximately $177 per year or about $15 per month.
Mehlville lags behind area districts when it comes to salaries
About 76% of the district’s budget comes from local taxes, and Mehlville School District has the lowest blended tax rate of all 22 school districts in St. Louis County. Salaries and benefits for district staff comprise more than 80 percent of district’s operating expenses. The district does not have the budget to make salaries competitive within the region without a tax rate increase.

In the 2022-2023 school year, Mehlville School District is paying its starting teachers $1,938 less than the average starting teacher salary in other county districts. At higher levels of experience, Mehlville’s teacher salaries trail the county average by $7,585. The district routinely loses teachers to area districts that offer higher pay for the same level of experience.

Additionally, the district has faced workforce shortages among support staff positions. As of Jan. 9, 2023 the district had 17 custodian vacancies. The custodial team was operating with only 79% of positions staffed. As of that same date, the district had 15 bus driver vacancies, or only 83% of positions staffed.

“In order for the Mehlville School District to continue to improve, it’s critical that we have the funds to recruit and keep high-quality support staff and teachers,” said Mehlville Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines. “If passed, Prop E will allow us to stabilize our workforce by offering competitive wages for all district employees.”

The last time Mehlville School District went to the voters to ask for a tax rate increase was in 2015. Proposition R (Restore) was put on the ballot to restore cuts the district had made to programs and services for students. Prop R passed with 72.5% of the votes.

“The board remains committed to attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and support staff,” said Board of Education President Peggy Hassler. “Our teachers are responsible for student progress and growth, and it is imperative that we are able to retain them in our district as we know that leads to improved academic outcomes and more consistent performance.”

During their meeting on Jan. 19, the Board of Education also considered asking voters for permanent funding for the 34 teaching interventionists hired using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These COVID relief funds end at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 school year.

“It was clear in last night’s meeting that all seven board members value all of our district staff, including our ESSER-funded interventionists. The board acknowledged significant progress in academics and student mental health since implementing this program,” Hassler said. “Taking into consideration the feedback of the community, the board felt it prudent to ask for 31 cents on the April 2023 ballot for competitive salaries and retention of all employees while standing committed to asking the voter to support ESSER-funded student opportunities in a future election, either in November 2023 or April 2024.”

Visit the Prop E section of our website for more information, including answers to frequently asked questions.

The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].