St. Charles School District

Life is good. I'm really enjoying living in St. Charles, Missouri. There are a lot of things in the city of St. Charles to be happy about. I not only enjoy the community, but most all of the people that I run into have been very warm and accommodating. We had already frequented the Main Street area before we moved out here from South St. Louis. And it makes my wife very happy to be able to be so much closer to a unique place to go shopping for clothes, antiques, food.

Mind you, I'm not knocking South St. Louis, especially since we lived there for 17 years. However, the big issues in the city which were around 20 years ago are still there, with no end in sight. It just doesn't seem like the people running the city (regardless of party affiliation) seem to be very big on solving the fundamental problems that St. Louis faces. We made the decision to move to St. Charles after evaluating a number of factors, one of which is the proximity both our parents and family. Another factor we took into consideration was the school district we would be moving in to. We are fortunate to be in the Orchard Farm School District. It is humorous to note that I graduated from OFHS back in the day.

As much as I am happy to be in the Orchard Farm School District, I am so very happy not to have to worry about the stuff that is facing a lot of the parents in the St. Charles school district. The district looks to be facing a shortfall of funds that was precipitated by a reorganization of the schools last year. Ostensibly the reorganization was done to save money. But it has become more a matter of penny-wise and pound foolish.

I’m not sure where the people that organized the reorganization gathered their numbers to support their arguments for the reorganization. Residents were told that by closing the two schools in the district would save enough money to not have to worry about buses or maintenance. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the fall semester last year, it became apparent that they had vastly under appreciated the need for buses and they had to arrange for additional buses and drivers to accommodate the students that previously hadn’t needed to be bused, since they were going to a neighborhood school. The cost savings for the school closings easily evaporated.

The other shoe dropped when it was announced that the school district would have to spend $1.2 million to bring the building up to code (and now looks to be closer to $1.9 million) and another $641,000 to make the Benton school building the new district office. And that’s assuming no cost overruns or more hidden surprises. And while the school district is facing declining enrollment, the recent reorganization has placed what one acquaintance of mine calls an “unacceptable teacher-student ratio”. The latest slap in the face to residents was the decision by the school board to not survey residents or put a question on the April ballot about the future use of Benton Elementary School.

Where is the fiscal responsibility? Where is the taxpayer representation? How much is this shortfall going to cost us in the long run? After making the commitment to keep Benton School in the district because of its historical significance, the district is now faced with the prospect of selling the building rather than fixing it. Yeah, I’m happy about not being in the St. Charles School District.

Hey, we’re under another winter weather storm warning. We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out. They’re predicting that St. Charles will end up with 6 to 9 inches of snow by the time this ends on Friday morning. The heaviest snowfall is probably going to be coming in between 11pm and 6am. Just in time for the morning rush hour. Everybody will be hitting the grocery stores for milk, bread, and eggs. I guess they all want French toast when you’re snowed in. Have to wait and see what happens. Keep it safe out there.

No comments: