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Four St. Louis area school districts looking to voters to approve new schools and upgrades

Four St. Louis area school districts looking to voters to approve new schools and upgrades

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Voters in at least four local school districts will decide April 7 on ballot measures to fund new construction or improvements to school buildings.

A new elementary school is part of a $70 million plan to ease overcrowding in the 5,700-student Kirkwood School District. The district’s school board will vote Monday on ballot language for the bond issue that would lower tax rates by 7 cents. If the bond proposal does not pass, tax rates would be lowered by 8 cents and continue to drop each year as existing bonds are paid off.

The new kindergarten through fifth grade school would be built on a 13-acre site the district already owns on Lindeman Road. Other projects include a new gym and library at Tillman Elementary, new entrances at Kirkwood Early Childhood Center, North Glendale Elementary and Kirkwood High and additional classrooms at North Kirkwood and Nipher middle schools and Kirkwood High.

The last new school to open in the district was Westchester Elementary in the 1950s.

In the last 10 years, enrollment in the district has increased by 756 students. By 2025, the district is expected to gain another 450 students.

Regardless of the ballot issue’s outcome, the district plans to redraw school boundaries in the next year, district officials said.

The $19.5 million bond measure Proposition S in the Ritenour School District in north St. Louis County would fund facility improvements without changing the current tax rate.

The funds would go toward upgrades to security systems, heating and air conditioning units, lighting and plumbing. Plans also include new surfaces for playgrounds and modernized cafeterias. Ritenour High School would get a new fitness and weight room, according to district officials.

Proposition S in the Francis Howell School District in St. Charles County would not increase taxes for a $244 million bond issue.

The borrowed funds would be used to rebuild Francis Howell North High School and upgrade wiring, plumbing and other systems in the district’s other buildings.

In Warren County, the school district again is trying to pass a 39-cent tax increase for every $100 in property values to fund pay raises for teachers and staff.

Voters rejected a similar measure on the ballot last August.

The district, about an hour west of St. Louis, has experienced a 15% to 20% annual turnover of teachers in recent years, most to higher-paying jobs in St. Charles County.

Warren County also moved to a four-day school week this year in another strategy to retain teachers.

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