Gaines discusses state of the district

New superintendent of the Mehlville School District, Dr. Chris Gaines, gave a state of the district speech at Nottelmann Auditorium to address upcoming issues on Sept. 8.

Mehlville School District has been underfunded since 2009, while the average revenue needed to run the district has increased 1.7% each year. Prop R , the proposed tax increase, is just about the district’s last hope. The ideal outcome would be an $0.85 increase per every $100 of property tax. Since this proposal is highly unlikely to pass, the district is instead requesting an $0.49 increase. A $0.49 increase is the bare minimum needed in order to efficiently run the district.

Dr. Gaines showed his optimism for the district when he said, “This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.” If the tax increases passes on Nov. 3, he plans to improve the “modern library” and make more technological advancements, continue with the 1-2-1 program, supply educational departments with the money and supplies needed to function, hire 16 new teachers, and restore after-school tutoring.

Some parents and students find it hard to stay optimistic with the various cuts made. All in one year, the district has cut bus service for homes within a mile radius, is spending $1 million less on books, the budget for the school libraries, after-school tutoring, and club funding. In addition to all the cuts, staff has had minimal development, class sizes have increased, and all sports have been experiencing difficulty with funding. The lack of financial support within the district has dropped students’ morale and overall achievement has dropped.

“If we stay here, we won’t get to where the magic happens,” Dr. Gaines said. He realizes change will not occur overnight, but he strives to retain hope. He said, “It will take imagination, but most of all, commitment.”