PROPOSITION 1 & ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUNDATION: A MATCH OF MISSION AND VALUES
At its February 2016 meeting, the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors unanimously voted to endorse the Saint Louis Public Schools’ (“SLPS”) Proposition 1, a proposed tax levy increase that is designed to generate vital revenue to support students in the Saint Louis Public Schools. If passed, the levy would provide an estimated additional $27.8 million annually to support both District and charter schools in the City.
Proposition One is the right thing to do, because it:
1. Sustains Critical Programming for Students. Successful programs like the District’s expansion of quality, curriculum-driven preschool for three- and four-year-olds will continue ONLY if the District can identify a sustainable source of funds. Data shows that children who attend pre-kindergarten classes in SLPS perform at least 45% higher on state Math and English assessments taken in third and fourth grade, as compared to their peers who did not attend SLPS pre-kindergarten classes. SLPS is committed to providing a strong start for its youngest students, and needs the support of Proposition 1 in order to do so.
2. Invests in Quality Teachers. Continued classroom success depends on quality teaching. The SLPS District ranks last in average teacher salary in the St. Louis region – nearly $3,000 less per year than the average teacher salary in the next lowest paying district, and more than $26,000 less per year than the highest paying districts. Veteran teachers are leaving the District and it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract experienced teachers. The percentage of teachers in SLPS with less than 5 years of experience has risen from 34% in 2011/2012 to 50% in 2015/2016. These trends in teacher compensation and experience level directly impact students’ ability to learn.
3. Begins to Level an Uneven Playing Field. The City of St. Louis has not passed a tax levy to support the public schools in 25 years. Since then, the proportion of state support for our schools has declined and many neighboring districts have addressed diminished state funding with additional levy increases. Over thirteen years, local property tax rates to fund schools have increased in 92 percent of Missouri counties. Of the 24 school districts in the St. Louis region, SLPS now has one of the lowest tax rates to support education. It’s time to reinvest in our students and the economic foundation of our City.
4. Builds on the Momentum of Success. The Saint Louis Public Schools District has had unprecedented success in the past few years. For two years running, the District has achieved impressive results with a 75% growth in annual performance points earned from 2013 to 2014 and a 76% growth from 2014 to 2015, showing greater growth than any other public school district in the state. Since 2010, students have shown steady gains in Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies and Science scores. Better academic performance has contributed to a rise in graduation rates, college preparedness and placement.
5. Addresses Needs of All Students. As the ballot states, revenue from the tax levy will help St. Louis provide a range of programs that ensure students’ wellness and safety. This includes character education and youth development programs, as well critical security support at all schools. Each year, the District invests over $20 million in support services to students, many of whom are growing up in poverty and in neighborhoods where crime is prevalent. At Saint Louis Public Schools, funds must address not just academic needs of students, but also create the conditions for students to thrive.
While the Foundation strongly supports Proposition 1, no donors’ gifts are being used to fund the campaign.
ABOUT THE ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUNDATION
The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation exists to serve as a trusted bridge between District needs and community generosity to promote educational success for St. Louis Public School District students. In the past two years, the SLPS Foundation has raised nearly $12 million to support educators and programs that are aligned with the District’s strategic plan.
For more information on SLPS Foundation investments, go to: www.slpsfoundation.org. The SLPS Foundation envisions a reality in which both public and private dollars are used to support the best possible outcomes for the 25,000+ students in City schools.