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Rockwood Residents React to Proposition R

More finance and legislative update presentations are slated for the Feb. 2 Rockwood School District board of education meeting.

Rockwood School District board of education directors , as previously reported by Patch.

Another finance-centric presentation related to the proposed April bond measure is slated for the Feb. 2 board of education meeting. To review the finance presentation, click here. It includes the following components:

  • Plan for deficit replacement/Fund balance
  • Non-sustainable reductions
  • Consistent approach to budget process
  • Zero-based budget

Board director Steve Smith recused himself from the Jan. 19 vote and the entire work session, presumably due to his job as project coordinator for Glenn Construction Company—the entity that served as the project manager for most of the district's bond-related projects in the past 15 years. Smith previously stated he would remove himself from those portions of the board's business that may result in a conflict of interest for him.

The bond measure, which will be called Proposition R, will ask voters to answer yes or no to the following ballot language:

Shall the Rockwood R-6 School District, St. Louis County, Missouri, issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of Forty-Three Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($43,200,000) for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating, repairing, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities in the District, including (1) technology infrastructure and classroom technology, (2) safety and health measures, and (3) maintenance of current facilities by continuing to fund major capital repairs and improvements, resulting in no estimated increase in the debt service property tax levy? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district is estimated to remain unchanged at sixty-eight cents ($0.68) per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property.

Patron Comments at Last Board of Education Meeting:

Russ Bullington of Ballwin recommended the board of directors vote for the entire bond package. He has children at Selvidge Middle on their way to Marquette High, and one at Woerther Elementary. "As I look back at meetings, especially the last one I attended, and listened to how Dennis (Griffith) explained how $100 million had already been cut from the overall plans, it was good that we went through item-by-item so that every person had a chance to speak for or against each project," he said.

"Support from that meeting's attendees was overwhelming to continue to support students in a push toward the world-class education that I want for my own children, as well as everyone else's."

Zachlyn Farwig, a Fenton resident, also spoke in favor of the bond package. She said she has two children at Kellison Elemenetary and one in pre-Kindergarten program at Vandover Early Childhood Center in Fenton. "I've been an involved parent and was on the 2010 bond committee. I think we are just starting out on our wonderful journey," she said.

She echoed concerns about allowing the district's hardware and software technology to get too outdated due to its age and newer industry versions of software. She also said she thought the money needed for the was important, because it generally is the first introduction to the district. "We should encourage involvement in school early on. To delay that involvement only hurts our kids and their education," she told the board of directors from the podium.

Eileen Tyrrell, a resident and Rockwood parent who serves as a spokesperson for the coalition group Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions (RS for RS), said the purpose of the group was to get "the silent majority's voices heard."

Tyrrell pointed out that Rockwood officials had launched a poll to seek input on the potential bond issue, noting however, that the poll was only sent to Rockwood parents who subscribe to the district's electronic news medium. "This 'Take the Poll' announcement is not on the district's Home page under Latest News," she said.

"It went to the E-News mailing list only. That begs the question:  Is this governing board of elected representatives being provided an accurate portrait of the current landscape of Rockwood voters regarding a $43 millon bond issue?"

She said RS for RS is "not going to go against" the bond issue on the April ballot or against any of the board of education candidates. But she stated to the board directors that she did not envy any of them regarding the district's current financial position.

Tyrrell said district representatives haven't always made the smartest financial decisions in the past, agreeing that the is the district's "biggest eye sore." 

"My son got staph twice due to that locker room's situation," she said, reminding that students pay the price for financial decisions made at the district level.

(See related article:  )

Darine Kobe of Fenton, who has two children who graduated from Rockwood Summit High as well as one soon-to-be graduate, said she was proud of the education her children had received from the district. Stating that she had served on Rockwood's finance committee, she said those committe members anticipated this current bond measure several bond issues ago.

"The package has within it what was expected. It represents a sound fiscal approach. The operating budget is so squeezed, it makes sense to do so," she said.

David M. Jinkerson March 21, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I just saw a yard sign about Proposition R that said: "Enough is Enough!" I agree. Rockwood says there will be no tax increase. Not now, perhaps, but taxes have to be increased in the future to retire these and previous bonds - there is no free lunch! Tell Rockwood to live within their means by voting against this ridiculous proposition!
David M. Jinkerson March 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
I just saw a yard sign about Proposition R that said: "Enough is Enough!" I agree. Rockwood says there will be no tax increase. Not now, perhaps, but taxes have to be increased in the future to retire these and previous bonds - there is no free lunch! Tell Rockwood to live within their means by voting against this ridiculous proposition!
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
The ICL is in a shared building with another elementary school (can't remember the name now) and the CCL building is at capacity (hence why they have the ICL in the shared space of the elementary school). Are you recommending dropping the gifted program to free up space? Prop R only has one new building listed, that I recall, and that was a middle school. What are the capacity numbers for the middle schools?
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I learned something just the other day that I thought was interesting. The last time Rockwood asked for a tax increase was in 1994. They have opperated with out an increase for 18 years. They have been able to do that by using bonds to address areas of concern. It isn't free, but it does keep our taxes from going up. Otherwise you can expect the district is going to need to get this money (part of it anyhow) through a tax levy. It was pointed out to me that some of our school buildings do not have fire sprikler systems as they were built before that was required. With children in the system that is something I don't want to see dropped becuase the bond failed.
Matt Doell April 02, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Yes, if the bond issue passes, the district will initiate an RFP process. Other bids will be accepted.

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