Francis Howell, Wright City School Districts watch tax proposals - KMOV.com

Francis Howell, Wright City School Districts watch tax proposals fail

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The Francis Howell and Wright City School Districts both had their respective tax increases fail on Tuesday’s ballot. 

Francis Howell’s (Prop Howell) asked voters for a 60-cent increase.  Wright City’s (Proposition K) asked voters for a 51-cent increase. Neither passed.  The implications for each district is different.

Francis Howell had already made substantial cuts due to monetary issues in the past.  In 2016 FHSD cut $8.2 million from the budget and reduced the equivalent of 62 full-time positions.

Due to failure of Prop Howell it says they likely will have to make even more cuts.

“We’ve tried to keep the cuts away from our students but we’ve already cut out the fat.  We’ve cut through the skin.  We are down to bone.  The next rounds of cuts will substantially affect our students,” Vice President of the Board of Education Rene Cope told News 4 last month.

Those cuts could come in all different areas.  They could come in athletics, transportation, after school activities or even increased class sizes.  Cope says all of those are on the table.  The Board of Education will wait and evaluate before making a decision.

The Wright City School District is in a different situation.  It won’t be making any cuts due to Prop K failing to pass.  Wright City was simply trying to stay competitive with teacher salaries to keep them from leaving for other districts.

“Unlike some of the other districts that may have been trying to pass something so they can avoid cuts we’re trying to be competitive.  We have a tax rate much lower than the state average.  In fact, this would have been below the state average.  We were trying to help slow down teacher turnover for salaries,” Superintendent David Buck said.

Wright City would have given a “significant” raise to teachers if Prop K had passed.  Currently, the starting salary for teachers in the district is $6,000 a year less than Francis Howell.  Buck says many of his teachers leave for other districts like Francis Howell, Parkway and Wentzville.

Prop K would have raised the starting salary and given them a better chance of keeping those teachers.  There has been so much turnover in the last several years 73 percent of teachers at Wright City High School have been hired in the last six years.

Students are even noticing how big the problem is.  The district did a focus group recently with students to find out.

“We literally asked one question.  If you could flip a switch and make one thing different about Wright City what would it be and why.  They all wrote it down individually and shared it.  They all said the same thing – keep our teachers here,” Buck said.

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