Faced with a growing budget deficit and ongoing facility needs, the Affton Board of Education unanimously voted on Tues., Aug. 2 to place two proposals on the November 8 ballot. Labeled Propositions I and N, the proposals are designed to provide long term financial stability for the district by balancing the budget, avoiding further cuts in staff and programs, maintaining the ability to pay teachers a competitive salary, and enabling the district to continue its program of keeping buildings well maintained with up-to-date educational spaces.
The Affton School District last asked voters to approve a tax levy for operations and improvements in 2004. With the increase provided by Proposition 1, it was projected that the District could remain fiscally sound through the 2008-2009 school year. Through careful planning and strategic data-driven decisions, Affton School District has been able to extend that projection for an additional eight years.
With increasing expenses and enrollment while facing decreasing revenue and assessed valuation in the community, as responsible planners and stewards of District finances, the Affton Board of Education has decided to place both tax levy and bond issue questions on the November 8, 2016 ballot.
WHAT WILL BE ON THE BALLOT?
Proposition I: Will increase revenue by approximately $1.4 million, allowing the district to retain its current number of teachers, protect programs and class sizes, eliminate deficit spending, protect transportation to and from school, and secure property values for district residents.
Proposition N: Will restructure existing debt from capital leases, adding $1.6 million to the district’s general operating fund, and provide $10-12 million to continue capital improvements to district schools and learning spaces. Projects were prioritized by the district’s Buildings and Grounds Committee following a year-long facilities audit. The plans will:
- Renovate classrooms to 21st Century standards throughout the district,
- Improve safety and security in every building throughout the district,
- Implement Capital Improvement Plan renovations at Gotsch Intermediate, to include a secure entry, new gymnasium and eight new classrooms, ADA improvements, and cafeteria renovation,
- Implement Capital Improvement Plan renovations at Rogers Middle School, to include a secure entry, two new classrooms, and ADA improvements, and
- Implement Capital Improvement Plan renovations at Affton High School, to include locker room restoration and renovation.
For a median-value home in the District ($139,000), the additional cost for Prop I and Prop N combined will be $19.15 per month starting in 2017.
WHY IS AN INCREASE NEEDED?
Just as homeowners must sometimes spend money to maintain their homes, the District must occasionally spend money to protect the investment that the community has made in its schools and neighborhoods. While we’ve worked hard to maintain our buildings and grounds, over time, things wear out and need repair or replacing. Similarly, we have extended the life of Prop 1 passed in 2004, which was intended to ensure that the District was financially sound through 2008-2009, but limited state funding and decreasing assessed valuation of homes and businesses in the community have negatively impacted the budget.
By addressing these challenges now, it will save money in the long run and ensure that teachers and students have an environment conducive to innovative teaching and learning, developing students as responsible citizens prepared for the challenges of a global society.
“Over the past few years, we have aggressively reduced the district’s budget to maximize dollars for the classroom. Since 2014, we have cut over $2 million from operating expenses with the goal of making cuts as far away from our classroom teachers as possible,” said Dr. Steve Brotherton, superintendent. “The Board takes its responsibility for fiscal stewardship very seriously, only turning to taxpayers as a last resort and only asking for what is needed.”