Prop E FAQ
For additional questions related to redistricting, please visit http://www.dejongrichter.com/WGSD/frequently-asked-questions/
What is a bond issue?
A bond issue is a long-term loan to the school district. It’s similar to a home mortgage that an individual might have. Tax-exempt bonds are sold to raise funds and the taxes collected by the school district from the bond levy are then used to repay the loan. By law, money raised from selling bonds can only be used to improve buildings and purchase long-lasting equipment.
What projects will be funded by Proposition E?
Proposition E, the no-tax-rate increase $22 million bond issue approved by voters in April, will pay for a variety of projects to improve safety, accessibility and other space issues in district buildings and relieve overcrowding in elementary schools. Six million dollars will be used for safety and accessibility enhancements that include secure doors and controlled, single point of entry vestibules for all buildings, asbestos abatement, secure interior and classroom doors, secure exterior doors, as well as elevators and chairlifts to improve accessibility, in accord with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition, the bond issue includes $16 million to add space at Hixson Middle School so that sixth grade can be moved there and to convert the Steger Sixth Grade Center/Givens School campus into a single elementary building. The addition of another neighborhood elementary school will alleviate crowding at the elementary level. Using this space would increase elementary capacity in the district by 396 students. In addition, use of the Steger/Givens building in this way furthers district efforts to become a more equitable school system. by providing more students and families with a neighborhood elementary school.
Didn’t the district just increase classroom space at the elementary schools by installing modular units?
Resident enrollment in the district has increased eight percent since 2009 and is expected to trend up through 2024. Three schools currently have modular units (Avery, Clark and Edgar Road). Nine percent of the district’s elementary students will attend class in a modular this school year. Avery and Clark each have one; Edgar Road has three. The district plans to gradually discontinue use of or repurpose the modulars.
Is the district enrollment growing?
Enrollment in the Webster Groves School District has been growing for several years. Unofficial, first-day-of-school numbers in September 2019 show that elementary enrollment has increased two percent, compared to last year. Since 2009, elementary resident enrollment has increased by 8% and total resident district enrollment has increased by 11%. While a few factors contribute to this increase, the data show an upward trend in the number of children born in the district and a notable increase in the number of students who had attended private/parochial schools prior to entering the district (second-most of any district in the region from 2009 - 2013).
The district has contracted with Dr. Charles Kofron to develop five-year rolling enrollment projections. Dr. Kofron’s projections are based on the number of children born within district boundaries and the number of resident children who enter kindergarten in the district. While his projections show a decrease in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 kindergarten cohorts (2023-24 based on 5 months of actual births and 7 months of projected births), resident district enrollment is still expected to increase 2.3% between now and 2023-24, and resident elementary enrollment is expected to increase by 4.1% within the same timeframe.
How will converting Steger into an elementary school affect school boundaries?
Adding an elementary school will require redrawing existing school boundaries. New boundaries will take effect in 2021-22, through a phase-in process. All kindergarten through fourth grade students enrolled in current elementary schools up to 2020-21 will have the opportunity to finish at their schools. 2021-22 kindergartners and students new to the district that year will attend schools according to the new boundaries. In addition, any child whose address falls within new boundaries could choose to attend that school rather than stay with his or her old school.
When will new boundary lines take effect?
New boundaries will take effect in 2021-22, through a phase-in process. All kindergarten through fourth grade students enrolled in current elementary schools up to 2020-21 will have the opportunity to finish at their schools. 2021-22 kindergartners and students new to the district that year will attend schools according to the new boundaries. In addition, any child whose address falls within new boundaries could choose to attend that school rather than stay with his or her old school.
Have any decisions been made about allowing younger siblings of students already in an elementary school to attend the same school?
Younger siblings not yet in school in '20 - '21 will be rezoned to schools within the new boundaries. Separately, the current school transfer process is under review and a recommendation will come at the same time as the final boundary recommendation to the School Board.
What process will be used to determine the new boundary lines?
The district has hired Cooperative Strategies consultants to assist in the redistricting process. Priorities for the new boundary lines include distance, safety, a balanced number of students at each school, and diversity. The process will include ample opportunities for feedback from the community.
What safety, accessibility and space improvements will Proposition E provide?
Proposition E will fund $6 million for enhancements that include secure doors and controlled, single point of entry vestibules for all buildings, asbestos abatement, secure interior and classroom doors, secure exterior doors, as well as accessibility improvements such as elevators and chairlifts, in accord with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
How is Hixson Middle School going to be expanded?
Additions to Hixson include classrooms, library expansion, multi-purpose room, cafeteria expansion, nurse’s office expansion and other renovations in order to relocate sixth grade from Steger to Hixson. Steger will then be converted to a K-5 neighborhood elementary school. Project completion will be accomplished by 2021/22.
What are the benefits of moving sixth grade to Hixson Middle School?
Moving sixth grade to Hixson means one less transition for district students, leading to greater continuity of care for diverse academic, social and emotional needs of students, greater access to a wider and deeper array of educational programming and extracurricular activities and improved structure for middle school staff collaboration. In addition, it is anticipated that another benefit of a 6-8th grade school would be increased parental involvement and engagement at the school.
Will the district continue allowing resident families to request any district school, so long as there’s space?
It is recommended that the district continue its practice of allowing resident families to send their children to any district school, if space exists in the receiving school at the desired grade level. It is recommended that a group convene to review and modify our process (as needed) to be responsive to the crowding in district schools.
Will non-resident staff members continue to be allowed to enroll their children here?
It is recommended that children of non-resident staff, following one year of successful employment, (continue to) be permitted to attend district schools if space allows. This benefit is commonplace among most districts in the region. Our district benefits from the state aid generated from these students attending and from staff being invested in the success of our schools and district in yet another way as parents.
Will extra counselors be provided at schools in support of students who transition from one elementary school to another?
All teachers and staff members at the elementary schools will be well prepared to assist students who move from one building to another. While we don't anticipate hiring additional counselors, we’re confident that all of the adults in each building, and particularly the counselors, will be ready to help any new students.
Will the redistricting affect Adventure Club in any way?
As you know, the number of Adventure Club staff at each school is related to the number of children in the program, for safety and security reasons. Should the number of children from building to building fluctuate with redistricting, the Adventure Club is prepared to move staff members to meet the need.