Following the defeat of the Proposition W tax increase during the Aug. 6 election, the Warren County R-III School District is discussing plans for how to move forward.
Passing the proposition would have meant a 39-cent tax levy increase going toward increasing teacher and staff salaries. This would have raised the levy for school operations to $3.9712 per $100 of assessed property valuation. The effort was a measure to achieve the district’s goal of attracting and retaining qualified staff.
Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said he believes it may not have been communicated clearly enough how impactful the salary component is on retaining staff.
“One of our goals is to be within $3,000 of the Wentzville schools’ salary schedule,” said Klinginsmith. “We want to avoid losing staff to those surrounding districts.”
The setback means at least a temporary delay in increasing teacher salaries, unless the R-III school board can come up with additional solutions for revenue. The board has a work session planned during which it will discuss options.
“We’re analyzing everything and will do a brainstorming session to look at finances and do some forecasting,” said Klinginsmith. “We’ll work to come up with some ideas amongst us. Everything is on the table, and we’ll see where that meeting takes us.”
The district voted to implement a four-day school week this year, and Klinginsmith said that was certainly attractive to members of the staff. For some, the schedule change was sufficient for retention. For others, compensation is also key.
“I don’t think I did a very good job of communicating to our stakeholders how the four-day week was just one facet of retaining staff and another piece was salaries,” said Klinginsmith. “It’s a two-prong approach that includes the four-day week and closing the gap in pay.”
Klinginsmith said there is the possibility of placing a tax on the ballot again. While the district could make the November filing date, he said the earliest R-III would bring the issue to the public again would be the April 2020 election.
“I feel that having the best working conditions and having competitive pay would help retain teachers,” said Klinginsmith. “The four-day week wasn’t necessarily positive for hourly employees and what we didn’t get out was how much hourly employees would benefit from the tax increase and salary raise.”