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Rockwood Voters Reject School Bond Measure

Rockwood School District patrons missed the margin needed to pass this $43.2 million measure by 3 percent. These are unofficial, final results as of Tuesday night.

Proposition R would have enabled the to borrow $43.2 million through general obligation bonds to make improvements and repairs to multiple school buildings, but this measure did not pass in Tuesday's election—by 54 (against)/46 (for) percent.

YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,579 votes, 53.95 percent
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,470 votes, 46.05 percent

This measure required a four-sevenths, or 57 percent, majority to pass.

"It is disappointing to lose by such a small percentage," said Rockwood School District Superintendent Bruce Borchers. "It is too early to speculate regarding the impact this will have on our schools. I can assure you we will continue to be fiscally responsible as we meet the needs of our students with our available resources."

Borchers said, "I would like to express my appreciation to our Rockwood community, a majority who voted in favor of the bond issue."

Rockwood Board of Education President Janet Strate told Patch on Tuesday afternoon that "saving money in the education business meant eliminating people."

Strate said parents can anticipate that some class sizes may have to increase, due to the proposition not passing.

"We'll (the board) have to focus on the most critical things, such as paying for the air-conditioning when school starts in August and fixing leaky roofs of school buildings," she said. "We'll also have to worry about keeping enough in reserves for those unexpected issues."

Strate said there was no immediate 'plan B' approach to adjusting the district's future budget. She said first the superintendent's cabinet would meet to determine what items to recommend cutting. "There are no simple answers, though. The board listens to the cabinet, but we also listen to the public regarding needs and priorities."

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Michael Rhodes April 04, 2012 at 11:02 PM
foxxydrummer: Do you really think I (or anyone else posting here) really has the financial means to fund the Rockwood School District?
Michael Rhodes April 04, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Ms. Tyrrell: I will admit I am still learning about how bonds work. Can you explain what this means from the RS website: "What could you do with an extra $300.00 this every year?" Does that mean my property taxes will be going down this year? I thought the existing bonds wouldn't be paid off until 2027?
Sue Harris April 04, 2012 at 11:41 PM
It's a sad day in the Rockwood School District when a bond issue that would have improved student's education was voted down. It's an even sadder day when people whose children attend the schools were the ones who voted against it! Wake up, parents, the cuts they will have to make will affect YOUR child's education by cutting teacher's, raising class size, and cutting professional development! YOU will be the first one complaining when your child is failing! Just remember, you voted for it,you asked for it!
Mark Schmiedeskamp April 04, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I was very excited this morning to learn that only 53.95% of Rockwoods taxpayers are still in the dark. Maybe when the next bond issue comes around we can enlighten some more. Don't want to beat a dead horse..........but enough is enough.
Parent & Taxpayer April 05, 2012 at 12:15 AM
@Sue Harris, Quickly want to say there are very few projects on that list that were critical to be done ...today!!! If they threaten to cut people/transportation/etc to put in a new locker room or kitchen upgrades, or buy technology, seems like a stretch. My children receive an excellent education, the teachers are the key! Not the latest and greatest technology or the prettiest library or kitchen service! I would really like fear and emotion to be taken out of the current problem. Note to the BOE and Rockwood Admin: We need to have adult conversations about what is needed, when it's needed, and what's the plan to get there. That will go a long way to getting people working together. Please no fear and emotional power plays! I can be convinced, but I want answers!
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Parent & Taxpayer: I agree and I doubt that will be the case. Fixing the roofs and adding fire sprikers to the buildings with out them is a different story. In the end the budget is already over by $2 million and now critical repairs will also need to come from that same pool of money. Not sure of what that dollar amount will be, but imagine we are looking at $5 million to $10 million that will need to be "found" in the budget. Once again I think about 80% of the budget is for teaching staff so it isn't a strentch that there will be cuts there.
Concerned Rockwood Parent April 05, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Rockwood has pursued the bond issue 12 times in the last 21 years. The District has to realize that these bond issues aren't meant for day to day operating budgets or maintenance needs and they therefore can't expect us to pass it just because they put it on the ballot. Bond Issues are for capital projects like infrastructure improvement or replacement needs - not new computers every three years. If the community were to pass these no tax increase bond issues 'every' two years, we also extend the current .68 debt service levy portion of our tax rate - which currently won't expire until 2024. The board can still raise our operating tax levy rate if it deems necessary, which is exactly what they have done the last three years (even though we passed their two previous 'no tax increase' bond issues) and they will most likely do it again this year, regardless if the bond issue had passed or not. Dr. Borchers has deservedly endured quite a bit of bad press since his administration began. He was hired with virtually no experience at almost $30k more than Dr. Larson & recently accepted a 2% raise. One of his highly overpaid consultants whom he later brought in at a six figure salary just resigned after only 1 year. Borchers and the board should have stuck to their initial decision to not pursue a bond issue this time around. If they had, Borchers might have salvaged some of his reputation and perhaps avoided having people rehash all of his previous poor decisions.
Ted Crabtree April 05, 2012 at 02:22 AM
There are too many frickin Rockwood buses on the road. Why do my neighbors' kids have to take the bus when the school is a block away? I see a lot of buses that are only partially full and the buses stop way too often. Stop less and make the kids walk. Has anybody asked Ryan Howard for a donation? That dude is frickin rich!
Teach April 05, 2012 at 04:00 AM
As a current Rockwood teacher, It is upsetting to see the lack of support for this district's teachers and students. The bottom line is Rockwood use to be a district with one of the strongest reputations in educating our youth. However, I believe firmly that is no longer the case. Our reputation has taken a huge hit because of many reasons. You can say that it is all because of upper management, but you would be lying to yourself. It is also because of the negativity spawned by groups and members of the public that just want to complain. It's funny to me that some of these individuals want you to think that under different circumstances they would actually vote in favor of our student's education. Well, you don't have me fooled. What has already started to happen are families questioning the Rockwood School District, and it is not because of our administration. It is because of the lack of support and the strength of the district's programs. If you continue to vote against the kids of Rockwood, very quickly you will see how desirable this district becomes, and with it will go the value of your homes. Oh, and for those that think I would say all of this for my income... there are at least ten districts that pay more than Rockwood, and they are all closer my home. It is not about my paycheck.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Ted Crabtree, your comments are welcome, but please watch your word choices. Patch terms of use do not allow remarks that are "defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive." Patch is a family-friendly, community communications hub seen by readers of all ages. Plus, information and ideas about the Rockwood District particularly may be read by interested students. Make your points without using certain adjectives.
John Mehoff April 05, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Teach, you have to admit that Borchers’ cronyism and the district's unethical construction contracts left this vote vulnerable to defeat. You can't expect taxpayers to rubberstamp every request for money when the administration is not showing fiscal responsibility. Taxpayers have a right to hold taxing entities accountable. This ain't Burger King. You can't always have it your way. You said, "If you continue to vote against the kids……”. Sounds like a line spoon fed from the NEA to shame people into caving in. The shame is on you for having your hand out for more and more money and not accepting any accountability. What’s next? Are you going to complain about teaching to the test? Summer break too short? Not enough snow days? Also, how many of those ten, higher-paying districts, are actually hiring right now? You don't fool me.
John Mehoff April 05, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Some of the comments remind me of this memorable line from the Simpsons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo
Kate baseballmom April 05, 2012 at 05:30 AM
We just voted yes on a bond issue for Rockwood 2 years ago. How much money do they need? Where did that money go? That's right to new theaters and astro-turf ball fields. Was that necessary for our children's education? I think not. I voted NO for the first time, for these reasons plus the ones mentioned above with the Board of Education and the shenanigans with the Superintendent and his overpaid friends. Many people are tightening their belt, and Rockwood needs to do the same with these extravagant expenditures. Cut administrators, not teachers.
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 11:49 AM
John: Proabably all 10. This is the time of year districts start looking at how many teachers are retiring or not coming back next year. Districts will then interview and genrally fill those positions in the early summer months to have staff in place by the start of school. St. Louis City has already had their teachers fill out their intent to return form for next year.
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Ms Hunt or Ms. Tyrrell: First off my aopogies to Ms. Hunt if I have the wrong person. The RS for RS website indicates a Lisa Hunt Earls as a co-founder and I pretty sure this is the same person. Hopefully a quick question about RS for RS. Is this an ongoining group or was it only designed to be around until after the bond vote? I was looking at the calender on the website and can not see any meetings or activities listed after April 3. I checked through the end of 2013.
Eileen Tyrrell April 05, 2012 at 02:27 PM
We are an ongoing group. if you go to the "Who We Are" tab on our website, our mission statement, purposes and goals are stated. Educating, information and engaging the Rockwood Stakeholder in and about their school district!!!
Eileen Tyrrell April 05, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Agree, Mr. Rhodes, not easy locating financial facts on the RSD website. Go to: http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/finance/Comprehensive%20Annual%20Financial%20Report/2011%20Report.pdf Page 11 of the 2011 Comprehensive Financial Report for Rockwood School District. "Missouri law also requires school districts to set a tax levy adequate to service the outstanding debt. The District’s Debt Service levy for FY2011 was $ .68 on each $100 of assessed valuation. The Debt Service Fund balance at June 30, 2011, was $48.2 million and equal to nearly 175% of the annual debt service expense. The District now enjoys an AAA bond rating".
Eileen Tyrrell April 05, 2012 at 02:41 PM
To Mr. Rhodes and all the readers engaged in this conversation. Please visit RS for RS website at rsdstakeholders.org and read our articles about the information and facts that are not always easily accessible on the Rockwood School District Website.
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Thanks Ms. Tyrrell. I was out there and noticed there are no planned meetings listed and even future school board meetings were not listed. Some groups are formed around election time just for that issue. I will add the RS for RS website to my favorites. Although I tend to disagree with their position one should always keep an open mind.
Eileen Tyrrell April 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM
For the Bond Payment Schedule, interest and principal bond balances and interest rates go to page 45 of the 2011 Comprehensive Financial Statement OR visit rsdstakeholders.org for our article "Rockwood School District – Not increasing our indebtedness intelligence"?
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Thanks again Ms. Tyrrell. It was RS for RS I was looking (hadn't tried the Rockwood site yet). I am correct thsat with the current levy the bonds should be paid off early, but that money can not be used for anything but those bonds and once paid the levy will be removed? Or, can the district use that money over the requirement for some of the items that were in the current ond request? If that is the case there would be enough money to compete most of the items in the failed bond request. I appreciate the information.
Michael Rhodes April 05, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I think I have it figured out. The current bond issue is a seperate fund and once paid off that tax revenue will go away. And those funds can not be used for anythign else. So it will not free up any money from the operations budget. For some reason I thought the bond payments came out of the operations budget and that was incorrect. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Martin McClimens April 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
First and foremost thank you to the members of the Rockwood Board of Education. This is often a thankless and very unappreciated position. Second thank you to the teachers to whome our children are intrusted. They help us educate and develope them into productive citisens with good character. I purchased a home in the Rockwood district 14 years ago becouse the reputation and quality of this district. It is unfortunate that a very small group of people wish to chisle away at the corner stone of the public school system becouse of their discontent with the district. Many of the residents have only recieved bits and pieces of news stories and articles that are designed to capture atention and sell papers or increase ratings. I believe that if informed and educated most of the residents would see what an outstanding job is being done.Mr Rhodes you seem to be very informed and educated. You are much more polite than I could ever be. Thank you for your coments. It is reassuring to see that there are logical residents within the district. The single most important individual to influance my child education is the teacher in the classroom. Next would be the resourses available to them. People act like technology is not important. I guess you haven't looked into what your son or daughter will have to be familier with to get a job in the future. The envirorment in witch you can best learn and retain knowledge is crucial. Support your teachers and your administraters, and your BOE
Laura Gigliotti April 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I wish there was a like button on here. Well said Mr. McClimens. I have been trying to think of a nice way to say this! And thank you Mr. Rhodes!
foxxydrummer April 06, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Mr. Rhodes, If you and the rest of the sheeple that keep voting for blindly supporting state-sponsored schooling, get out your check books and donate $5,000 per year, the district's money problems would be over. I, however, have to pay $20,000 per year in wealth redistribution, and I receive nothing from the district. I no longer have school age children, but when they were in school, I was a responsible parent and paid to send my children to parochial schools, instead of making them a burden on the state. We did without cable, big screen tv's, and a new car every 2 or 3 years, to invest in our children, which has paid off. But you whiners want everyone else to pay for your offspring's education. It's time to move out of the entitlement generation and take financial responsibility for your offspring. And how about coming clean? Are you a paid shill for Rockwood or the NEA? You sure seem to parrot the party line, comrade.
Michael Rhodes April 06, 2012 at 11:55 AM
foxxydrummer(interesting by the way): It may take two post to answer your questions. 1. "And how about coming clean? Are you a paid shill for Rockwood or the NEA? You sure seem to parrot the party line, comrade." Neither. I do need to become more involve as by your post it is evident some are blind to the impact a quality school system has or the reverse what an un-accreditited system has. I am not emplyeed or receive any money from the Rockwood School District. I am not and have never been a member of a union and don't plan on ever being. You won't find a union supporter sticker on my car (bought used by the way). I am also not member of the communist party. I tend to vote Republican, but will always vote for the canidate that best supports my views.
Michael Rhodes April 06, 2012 at 12:18 PM
foxxydrummer: Did you also attend private school or did you not attend school? It would need to be one of the two as you stated you derived no benefit from public schools. From another post you have made you are employed. Were all your customers that are spending their money with your comany from private schools as well? They must have been since you said you derive no benefit from a public school system. Do you not have any co-workers or employees or were they all private schooled as well? If so, were they all private schooled as well? Do you not own property in the Rockwood School district? You must not as the value on that property is directly impacted by the quality of a schoool system.
Michael Rhodes April 06, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Okay, just about done. To say someone does not benefit from a public school district when they live and work in one is an unrealistic arguement. A better arguement would be that you just hate paying any taxes or that you hate that your tax rate is so high.
David Miller April 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
A "very small group of people"? A full 46% of those who voted, voted AGAINST Prop R -- the largest percent of no votes in recent years. This is also a significant increase from past bond issue “no” votes: 36.01% against Proposition 5 in 2010, 38.02% against Proposition 3 in 2008, and 32.70% against Proposition K in 2006. Almost every other voter voted against Proposition R.
Eileen Tyrrell April 11, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Support your teachers, and your administrators and your BOE? I believe most everyone does "support" Rockwood, however, that doesn't mean they aren't going to disagree on all decisions made and the process in which those decisions are reached. As pointed out in the latest press release from RS for RS "Citizens are not against paying their fair share of taxes to support public education in our school district. However, what they are against are unwise, undisclosed and inappropriate business practices, excessive spending and poor fiscal management," said Eileen Tyrrell, RS for RS co-founder and spokesperson. http://fenton-highridge.patch.com/articles/rockwood-stakeholders-group-calls-for-fiscal-reforms

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