Rein in Special School District's mission

2012-10-26T00:00:00Z Rein in Special School District's mission stltoday.com
October 26, 2012 12:00 am

I read with interest the Post-Dispatch supporting Proposition S (Oct. 22). I appreciated the attempt to shed some light on the numbers and how a 19-cent hike would increase taxes. But the article failed to shine full light on these numbers.

In 2011, the Special School District (SSD) received 15.42 percent of my total tax bill. For my property that translated to $405.77. If this 19-cent increase, which at $1 per $100 of assessed valuation translates to a 19 percent increase, were in effect last year, the total would have risen to 18.4 percent of my total bill, or $482.86.

I appreciate the good work of the SSD and the effect it has on many needy lives. That said, to quote the Post-Dispatch, “The district currently is on solid ground with revenues of $381 million and expenditures of $374 million." This has been accomplished by holding back spending growth and trimming personnel and spending. Good, that is what businesses and public agencies do in uncertain economic periods!

Maybe it is time to stop trying to be all things to the community. The SSD was once primarily focused on school-aged special-needs children that the public schools were not equipped to teach. So I now ask, to what extent should job training and technical education, run by two SSD technical education high schools, be funded through taxpayer dollars? 

I understand that life training is helpful, indeed life-changing for special-needs students. But with a staff of more than 5,000, which with 265 schools served translates to 18.86 staff people per school, I ask how much further is to be the reach of the SSD? It would appear now is the time to rein in and redefine the SSD’s mission. St. Louis County voters should say no to Proposition S.

Richard Essman  •  Olivette

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