Many school districts in the St. Louis area are being forced to make significant budget cuts. But the Fort Zumwalt School District is looking to raise millions of dollars, even as it forecasts lower enrollment.
If the $15 million bond issue on April 2 passes, the district will no longer pay rent in the strip mall that currently houses its facility for severely developmentally disabled students.
“It’d be better to use that money we’re paying as rent to retire the principle and interest on bonds and own the facility,” said Ft. Zumwalt Superintendent Dr. Bernard Dubray.
Dubray says new construction is only a small part of the $15 million plan. It would also pay for maintenance, about a $1 million for security improvements and other new construction.
“I’m definitely for it, my kids are both grads of Ft. Zumwalt North and they both went on to find good jobs,” said O’Fallon resident Doreen Lilja.
Lilja and other parents and taxpayers support the measure, even though Dubray says the district could lose up to 1,500 of 19,000 students in the next decade.
So why would the district need more money and facility space?
“The biggest part of the bond issue is going to be repairs and renovations to existing buildings,” said Dubray.
“Some of the teachers have 30 kids in the classes and they’re still getting a good education,” said Lilja. “They need it a lot of the buildings have to be repaired.”
Dubray says he’s feeling pretty optimistic that the bond issue will pass. The last one was in 2009 for $30 million. The next one is coming in 2015.