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Friday, October 29, 2010

Your Public Schools

Tomorrow evening at 7 PM, KMOV Channel 4 will present an hour long investigation titled "Your Public Schools". This program will be anchored by Craig Cheatham and Jasmine Huda.Tune in!

MCTA's Founders Interviewed

United for Missouri recently interviewed the MCTA's founding members Rich Franz, Ken Meyer and Greg Frigerio. To view the videos click HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Call Newspapers Reject Proposition C


Editorial: Call makes recommendations on school district ballot measures

Lindbergh, Mehlville voters to weigh tax hikes Tuesday.

October 27, 2010 - Lindbergh Schools voters and Mehlville School District voters will consider Proposition L and Proposition C, respectively, in next week's election.

While both are tax-rate-increase proposals, that's where the similarities end.

Lindbergh Schools is seeking a 65-cent tax-rate increase designed to stabilize the district's finances. A decline in Lindbergh's assessed valuation since the 2007-2008 school year has resulted in a cumulative loss of $14 million in tax revenue to the district. For the current school year, the school board approved more than $4.7 million in budget reductions and eliminated roughly 60 positions, including 45 teaching positions. Even with the $4.7 million in reductions, the school district still faces a roughly $4 million budget shortfall.

Mehlville School District voters will consider an 88-cent tax-rate increase that would fund the first phase of recommendations outlined in the district's long-range improvement plan, COMPASS II — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools. The Prop C ballot language asks district voters if the operating tax levy should be increased by 88 cents, "with up to 40 cents of the increase being used to pay capital expenditures, including without limitation costs to construct, renovate, repair, improve, furnish and equip school facilities and sites, and update computers and technology, and with the remainder of the increase being used to fund competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain highly-qualified classroom teachers and staff, expand kindergarten to full-days and to pay other increased school operating costs?"

COMPASS II's first phase contains roughly $106 million in proposals designed to make Mehlville a high-performing school district. Those include nearly $94 million in capital recommendations — such as the construction of a new Margaret Buerkle Middle School on the Mehlville Senior High School campus — and roughly $8 million in operational recommendations — such as funding for all-day kindergarten.

The long-range plan formulated by COMPASS II does a great job of articulating Mehlville's needs and offers the school board a major opportunity to take a giant step in moving the district forward. However, we cautioned the school board back in August about being overzealous, citing the tough economic climate that has impacted many in our community.

We also noted then any ballot measure proposed by this board would have a huge hurdle to overcome given the public's dissatisfaction with its handling of Superintendent Terry Noble's contract — since relinquished — that provided him a roughly $44,000 raise.

But instead of proposing a reasonable, measured approach to make Mehlville a destination school district, the Board of Education has embarked on a risky, all-or-nothing proposition. If the proposed 25-percent tax-rate increase is approved by voters — and that's a huge if — we'll be the first ones to tip our hat to school board members because they will have accomplished something that we didn't think possible. However, taxpayers should be aware that even if voters approve Prop C, they should be prepared for future requests for additional funding to support the school district.

But don't take our word for it. On the same night the school board voted to place Prop C on the Nov. 2 ballot, Mr. Noble noted that the district's finance officials have projected severe cuts in state funding by 2012 and said, "I just want everyone to know that this is not the final time we will need community support. We believe the recommendations developed in COMPASS are the necessary and correct measures to become a high-performing school district, and it's vital that we maintain our current program to meet state and federal requirements."

Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch earlier this year projected the district could face significant budget problems by 2013 if it doesn't take steps to increase revenue or cut expenses. Specifically, budget shortfalls caused by a combination of stagnant local revenue, a possible $2 million to $3 million drop in state revenue and increased operating expenses will deplete Mehlville's operating reserves by 2013, his projection shows.

In July, the district's Finance Committee told the Board of Education that sound financial footing in the short and long term for the school district means maintaining operating reserves that range from 10 percent to 15 percent of expenditures. And keeping those fund balance percentages in the double digits over the next three years, the committee told the board, means passing a 40- to 50-cent tax-rate increase within the next 12 months.

But the 88-cent tax-rate increase placed on Tuesday's ballot by the school board does nothing to address the concerns cited by the Finance Committee. We won't even mention the "blank-check'' nature of the ballot language nor the questionable decision to finance buildings with a "forever'' tax that will remain in place long after the construction debt has been retired.

For those reasons and our belief that some school board members have lost sight of why they ran for the board orginally, we urge voters to reject Prop C.

If Lindbergh voters do not approve Prop L, we believe Lindbergh no longer will be Lindbergh.

After making nearly $7 million in cuts over the past two years and eliminating roughly 60 positions for the current school year, Lindbergh is fighting for its life after a cumulative loss of $14 million in tax revenue since the 2007-2008 school year.

If Prop L is not approved Tuesday, district officials will have to make roughly $4 million to $5 million in reductions for the coming school year.

In late 2008, district officials pledged they would not seek a tax-rate increase for 24 months despite Lindbergh's precarious financial situation. Instead, they opted to utilize the district's cash reserves.

As a result of the revenue decline and cuts, class sizes have increased and the district's cash reserves have dwindled.

Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane said last week at a public forum on Prop L that district officials have tried to wait out the recession. "Well, we're into the third year and we really can't wait any longer. We need to know: What does the public want us to do?''

The answer is simple: If you want to keep Lindbergh Lindbergh, then you should vote "yes'' on Prop L.

Monday, October 25, 2010

UNICOM • ARC - The Best UNION PR Firm YOUR Money Can Buy?

We want you to know about the PR firm that Mehlville School District has employed solely to raise your taxes. And guess what? YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT!

UNICOM-ARC is owed by Labor Tribune publisher Ed Finkelstein and is a partisan firm that represents Democrats, PUBLIC SCHOOLS and political subdivisions staffed by public sector unions. 
In a description of itself that UNICOM-ARC posted on a directory of union shops (maintained by the Union Label & Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO): "We are all-union communications and public relations firm that specializes in serving labor, non-profit and community-based organizations. Unicom-ARC is experienced in media outreach, planning campaign strategy and developing effective messages through focus groups and polling."
The bulk of their business comes from school districts who hire them for the explicit purpose of spiffing up their image as a prelude to passing tax hikes. (See below article, it will give you the scoop on what UNICOM-ARC is all about)
UNICOM-ARC was in charge (well over $100,000) of the Mehlville School District's COMPASS II public engagement meetings and is now in charge of the independent political campaign committee cramming Proposition C down our throats. Is there any conflict of interest here? 
The taxpayers pay for all of the polling and bogus community organizing (COMPASS II) that UNICOM-ARC provides, then the firm uses that same information to run an independent political campaign. UNICOM-ARC gets paid twice. Once by the taxpayers and once by the pro-Proposition C political committee. Can you say corrupt?
We are getting robbed by a public education system that is run BY THE UNIONS, FOR THE UNIONS! What about the kids?
Be an informed citizen and click here for a Google search about UNICOM-ARC. You will discover a distinct pattern of operation for UNICOM-ARC. They predictably get 80% of their business through no bid contracts with heavily unionized school districts in Missouri and Illinois. Non-union PR firms need NOT apply to the Mehlville School District.
Read the below article about UNICOM-ARC  from The Illinois Loop. Mehlville School District is wasting YOUR tax money to raise YOUR taxes. Its insane!
Spinmeisters Come To Town
by Kevin Killion
October 25, 2001
Schools Discover PR
      A new element is being added to the battle between the education monopoly and education reformers. The same tool used by marketers to sell soap, tobacco, and automobiles is now being used to convince your neighbors that everything is just fine and dandy at the local school -- except that much more money is needed. Schools have discovered the world of public relations!
      The residents in a community are usually first introduced to this new element when the district announces it has contracted with a "research company" hired (we are told) to conduct, tabulate and report a "community survey".
      Even a casual observer might find it curious that a school district would look all the way to St. Louis, say, to find a research company, when there is no shortage of solid, credible market research companies in Chicago. After all, Chicago is the home of the American Marketing Association, and thousands of market research professionals work in this area.
      As these "surveys" are done, parents might also find it a little odd that so little is asked in detail about what parents actually expect in curriculum, or what parents think about the curriculum or curriculum changes, how parents feel on such issues as phonics versus whole language, or how parents feel about the issue of endless "projects" versus substantive, coherent content.
The Agenda Behind "Community Surveys"
      The formula behind a typical so-called "survey" behind a PR campaign for higher taxes was spelled out with great candor at one of the sessions at the 2001 conference of the NSPRA, the National School Public Relations Association. Yes, there IS such an organization, and by all measures it's growing rapidly.
      At a session entitled "Getting Voter Approval the New Fail-Safe Way," a manager for one large school district and the PR head for a state school board association jointly shared their experiences in running hundreds of successful school levy and bond campaigns. This conference and this session was covered in reports by Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency. Excerpted from his reports, here is what happened at that session:
          Campbell and Magmer suggested an early survey of all potential voters in order to learn where they stand on the levy. The yes votes are noted and divided by how frequently they vote. The no votes are questioned further, to determine if emphasizing a particular aspect of the levy's purpose moves their vote to yes. If so, these people are also noted. Those who can't be moved ("Men over 60 are death on wheels for most measures," Campbell said) are discarded and never referenced again. This is crucial to what follows. ... 
      To read more, and for the full details on the NSPRA conference, see the links at the bottom of this page.
UNICOM-ARC: When Your District Needs Hired Guns
      Here in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Illinois, one name that pops up frequently is that of "UNICOM-ARC". This St. Louis firm has been hired by school districts in the Chicago area, including Barrington D220, Carpentersville, Deerfield D109, Glenbard High School District 87, Glen Ellyn D41, Glenview D34, Gurnee (Woodland) D50, Gurnee D56, Highland Park, Kenilworth D38, Lake Zurich D95, Libertyville/Vernon Hills High School D128, Lockport Township D205, Mt. Prospect D57, Naperville D203, North Palos D117, Park Ridge-Niles D64, Roselle D108, St. Charles, Skokie D69, Skokie (East Prairie) D73, Wheaton-Warrenville D200, and Woodstock D200, as well as in a number of school districts downstate including Belvidere D100, Collinsville D10, Springfield D186, and O'Fallon Township in St. Clair County.
      It's most revealing to do a little checking around on this "UNICOM-ARC" company.
      Turns out that UNICOM-ARC is no run of the mill "research" company. In a description of itself that UNICOM-ARC posted on a directory of union shops (maintained by the Union Label & Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO), they say,
          We are all-union communications and public relations firm that specializes in serving labor, non-profit and community-based organizations. Unicom-ARC is experienced in media outreach, planning campaign strategy and developing effective messages through focus groups and polling ... 
      The bulk of their business comes from school districts who hire them for the explicit purpose of spiffing up their image as a prelude to passing tax hikes.
      We can quickly realize that when a "community survey" is conducted, parents and teachers should NOT expect UNICOM-ARC to deliver an unbiased report on what the town really wants  -- that's NOT what they were hired to do, and it's not what they do for a living.
      Take a look for yourself: here is the UNICOM-ARC website.
      Here is their own statement of what they do:
          Since 1970, our INTEGRATED approach has helped the UNICOM•ARC team build an 80% "win" record in 118 election campaigns and develop a well-earned reputation for taking on difficult and complex issues and turning them into success stories. 
      This bit is revealing:
          Using research as a guide we implement the most effective strategies to reach out to the target audience and build better understanding or awareness of an issue or product. This is best achieved by letting your audience "discover" firsthand the challenges you face or the advantages of your product or service, then engaging them in meaningful two-way dialog at a grassroots level. 
      (Note: the extremely revealing quotes above around the word "discover" are theirs, not mine.)
      UNICOM-ARC's pride over the "accomplishments" of its head of their educational division is described this way:
          Dan Burns, Executive Director of Education Communications, UNICOM•ARC
          As the long-time Director of Communications and Planning for the Rockwood (MO) School District, Dan was widely regarded as one of the top school communicators in the nation. During his tenure there, the District passed 13 bond proposals totaling $240 million (including the largest school bond proposal ever passed in the St. Louis County area) and three successful operating levy increases. 
      Here, UNICOM-ARC is very proud of what they did in west suburban district 300:
          In November 2000, UNICOM•ARC helped the District pass an $88 million bond issue (which required a 33-cent tax increase)... The campaign was preceded by a lengthy public engagement process, facilitied by UNICOM•ARC, in which more than 3,000 District residents participated in the creation of a the plan which was eventually approved by voters. 
      On the same page they also report winning awards at the recent conference of the NSPRA, the National School Public Relations Association. UNICOM-ARC presented one of the sessions at this spin-fest, and here is the official description of that session from the conference program book:
          Promoting a facilities or operations plan created "top down" by district officials is becoming increasingly difficult. This session will outline a groundbreaking process to engage the public to "discover" the challenges you face, and then create and support a plan to meet your needs. 
      Again, the quotes around the word "discover" are theirs, not mine.
      (For much more detail on the events of the NSPRA conference, follow the links near the bottom of this page to the reports from the Education Intelligence Agency.)
      Of particular interest, take a look at UNICOM-ARC's web page on "case studies":
          Community Unit District 300 in western suburban Chicago had lost three times in a row at the polls with plans to deal with explosive student growth and severely aging facilities. ... District 300 had to deal with a vigilant anti-tax group who opposed all ballot initiatives, along with a series of unpopular administrative decisions that led to a complete lack of trust of the District by the public. ... Utilizing UNICOM•ARC's award-winning model for public engagement, the newfound FACE Committee held planning meetings in every school building, brought in architects and financial planners, and created a new plan ... With the momentum from that process behind them, the FACE leaders then led the election campaign for an $88 million bond issue that residents approved in November 2000. 
Paying for Your Brainwashing
      Who is paying for all this spinmeistering on behalf of local districts? In many cases, it's the taxpayers, through their local school boards who claim that hiring of companies like UNICOM-ARC is for the purpose of "research" (which is legal) rather than political action (which is not). In other cases, it's a "community" group that fronts for a tax hike, soliciting "donations" from residents or local businesses.
      It's interesting that as school districts and boards are squawking louder and louder about money (even in exceptionally well-larded districts), they see no problem with spending dough on public relations gimmickry rather than on engaging the community in honest discussions of the kinds of schools they want -- the kind of discussion that could lead to genuine community support.
      More and more, the voters are wising up. In response, tax hike proponents are being more cautious in their PR efforts. From the Chicago Tribune, March 9, 2002:
          "You have to be real careful about looking too slick and too clean," [the co-chairman of a Naperville campaign] said. "You want it to be citizens selling the referendum to citizens. You don't want it to be Madison Avenue selling it. People get suspicious." 
      Even UNICOM-ARC is aware that there are limits to polished campaigns on behalf of skyrocketing tax hikes. From the Chicago Tribune, March 9, 2002:
          "In more and more communities, there seems to be more opposition that is cropping up ... they are much more organized than they were 20 years ago. They are networked," said Rodney Wright, president of UNICOM/ARC... 
      Dear readers, welcome to the network! 
How To Learn More About Schools and Public Relations
      Here are some articles and links that will help you to learn more about how your tax dollars are being used to sell higher taxes and oddball innovations in your local schools:
    * To learn about expenditures for specific PR companies (e.g., Unicom-ARC) or on behalf of pro-tax-hike organizations (e.g., "Save Our Schools", "Community Partnership for Education ") associated with school districts, go to the "Campaign Disclosure" section of the website of the Illinois State Board of Education. Expenditures can be searched in a variety of ways, though you may need to do some exploring to discover them all.
    * National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA):
      Here is a wonderful series of reports from the NSPRA Conference, Minneapolis, July 9-11, 2001 prepared by Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency. These are gems -- well-researched and in-depth, and fun to boot!
          o Report for July 9, 2001: Excerpt...
            "No doubt you have a few questions about NSPRA and about why I am here. First, I will venture a guess that many of you are unaware your school districts employ public relations officers, or that there are enough of them to have a national organization and a conference. I assure you there are over 1,000 school district public relations officers at this event, along with some superintendents and other school officials."
          o Report for July 10, 2001: The EIA covers some of the main sessions of the conference, including such eye-openers as how to appeal to the "75 percent of the public have no children in the public schools", a very revealing session on getting out the yes vote in referendum campaigns entitled "Getting Voter Approval the New Fail-Safe Way," and a watch-your-behind session named "Communicating Proactively in Sensitive Situations."
          o Report for July 11, 2001: the EIA covers more NSPRA sessions, including one called (no kidding) "'Bribing' Your Critics and Other Unusual Community Involvement Strategies." There is a mention of why it is important to involve real estate professionals in your education work. Best of all, the EIA report includes the delicious names of a number of sessions that could not be covered due to time constraints, including "Dealing with Public Anger" and "How to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast Our Critics".
    * PR and the Public Schools; Before announcing bad test scores, inspire community pride by George A. Clowes, School Reform News, October 2001
    * How Schools "Manage" Parents, School Reform News, October 2001. This is a review of the book Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education by Temple University history professor William Cutler. The review starts by asking this compelling question: "Why is it that parents who give a mediocre grade to public schools in general almost invariably have a favorable impression of the performance of their local public school?"
    * Here is an additional review of Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education by William Cutler. This review also starts with questions: "Why aren't schools more responsive to parent and taxpayer demands for improvement? Is it because they are a monopoly and they just don't care? Is it because they are increasingly influenced by unions and put member interests ahead of the public interest? Or, is it, as the schools claim, because they can't do better given their resources? William Cutler's new book implicitly raises another possibility: Is it because they aren't making a good faith effort to change? If history is a guide, the answer is yes. Cutler shows that schools and parents have been at odds for a very long time. Instead of acting to fulfill the expectations of parents and the public, the schools have historically sought to shape and reshape the views of parents and the public to suit their own ideas about education's aims and purposes." Note: This review is also available as a PDF document.
Schools, Teachers, Parents and the Community
      For more about public relations techniques used by school districts, go to this page:     Illinois Loop: Schools and Public Relations
      For more information on the role, perspectives and involvement of teachers, parents and the community with schools, see these additional pages on our website:
          o Public Relations: Your school may have hired professional help in selling a change to your community
          o PTAs, PTOs and Other Groups: Who does your PTA really represent?
          o School Committees: Have you served on a school committee? Were you disappointed with the results? Read this!
          o In-Service Workshops: What are the teachers doing when the kids have that day off?
          o Parent Rights: What are your recourses when normal channels have let you down? 
Copyright 2006, The Illinois Loop. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

News Flash: Liberal, Big Government Spenders Exist in School Districts Too!


OK, so it may not really be a news flash that school districts are often some of the biggest, least watched spenders of our tax money locally.  Some of you already knew that but just need a gentle reminder that questionable management of our tax dollars may be occurring in our own backyards!
We blogged about the 25% tax levy increase that the Mehlville Public School District has placed on the ballot for November 2 (Another Prop C – Only This Time, It Should Be NO!).  Five former school board members, several of them past board presidents, have announced their opposition to the tax levy increase (Five former Mehlville school board members oppose 88-cent tax hike).  When you have five former school board members who are against a measure from the district, you know that there is something terribly wrong with the proposal!
The folks over at Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association (MCTA) blog have a rather on-point posting about the apparent disregard the Mehlville Public School Board has for good fiscal management.  As they increase pay and benefits with no long-term plan other than tax increases to pay for them, they take potshots at the Mehlville Fire Protection District (MFPD) for being fiscally responsible!
Albert Einstein is credited with this definition – Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Mehlville Public School District Board of Directors may want to consider either a self-exam or professional help.  They are obviously no Einsteins, but they are perilously close to fitting the definition!
For your reading pleasure, here is the MCTA blog posting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A History Lesson From The MCTA's Matt Chellis

Remarks by former Mehlville Board of Education member, Matthew J. Chellis at the MCTA town hall held at Cliff Cave Library on October 21, 2010.

Sixty years ago, the population of the City of St. Louis peaked at 850,000. Then they elected progressives and started raising taxes. People started moving out. They have lost 500,000 people. It's now 350,000 people. They have high property taxes. They have an earnings tax. They spend a lot on education, a lot more than we do here in Mehlville. What has it gotten them?

Ten years ago, Mehlville had an annual budget of $60 million a year and educated over 12,000 kids. Now, it’s $100 million a year to educate 11,000 kids.  That’s right, $40 million dollars more to educate 10% fewer kids.  Also, if you do the math, you will learn that they spend a lot more per child per year than they claim.

This ploy of raising taxes to the median, is a never-ending cycle.  When one raises the tax rate, the rest think that they must also. It’s a one way escalator. It only goes up.

This tax is a big deal.  It’s a big deal because it’s a big tax.  It’s also a big deal because it’s a "forever tax".  It’s not a 5 year tax, or even a 20 year tax. Supporters say if you don’t like it you can leave. It’s true: the only way to get out of it is to die or move out.

If you are inclined to support this tax let me warn you: it will forever change the character of your neighborhood, the neighborhood where I and many of you grew up. Once you go from a low or moderate tax area, to a high tax rate, you never go back.

Some of your neighbors just can't afford it. Where do you want them to go?

To those of you who are opposed to this, don’t take its failure for granted. The unions and the other tax increasers are spending big money on this effort. I just wish they would put that money into the classroom.

Please, vote on Nov. 2nd

Memo to Karl Frank, Jr.: Make That Call To The Mehlville Fire Board - TODAY!

On October 13, the Mehlville Board of Education voted unanimously to borrow up to $10 million to shore up the underfunded "teacher's fund".  That's strange. Were we not told by this same Board that everything was marvelous with the district's fund balances?
Mehlville employees were awarded close to 15% in salary & benefit increases over the last several years with no major new sources of revenue. It appears that these huge giveaways are not sustainable. It also seems that this incompetent Board has to borrow money just to keep employee paychecks up to date. Does this sound like wise stewardship of your tax dollars?
To add insult to injury, the Call reported in today's edition: "Before the vote on the resolution last week, board member Karl Frank Jr. joked to Knobloch (Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch), "Noel, have you run this by the Mehlville fire board?" Knobloch laughed and replied, "No I haven't, but if he wants to call I'd be happy to discuss it with him (Aaron Hilmer)." "You should really think about that in the future," Frank said." Click HERE to read the Call Newspapers' article.
Since Mr. Frank is presiding over a school district that can't make it's payroll and since he has personally declared bankruptcy, we hardly think that Frank has any credibility to criticize the fiscal successes of the Mehlville Fire Protection District. 
Aaron Hilmer and his Board have been sued 25 times by it's union employees in their quest to reform the district's pensions, operations and administration. We have never read that Hilmer needed to borrow money to pay MFPD's employees. But Hilmer opposes Mr. Frank's huge 25% tax increase, Prop C and is also a member of the MCTA.
Yet, Mr. Frank may be on to something. Perhaps a call to Aaron Hilmer from the big spending Mehlville Board of Education would yield good financial advice that would keep the paychecks coming to employees without borrowing $10 million to meet short term cash flow deficits. 
We think that Karl Frank, Jr. and his tax-and-spend Board of Progressives will suffer a backlash from the voters of South County for their cheap shot at the MFPD Board. Hilmer, Stegman and Ryan have proven to the voters that property taxes can be cut and employee pensions can be reformed without damaging services to the public.

Memo to Mr. Frank: Make that call today!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Read Today's Call Article About the MCTA's Kick-off Event

"The five former school board members outlined their opposition to Proposition C during an Oct. 14 rally sponsored by the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association at the Holiday Inn South County Center that attracted roughly 50 people." Click HERE to read the full Mike Anthony article.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another Prop C – Only This Time, It Should Be NO!

Imagine your response to this scenario.  An elected school board member is asked about an action he and his fellow board members took. He responded:  ”"My decision and the decision of the board is not based on how the taxpayers feel.

Unfortunately, this is not a “what if” scenario.  This is the actual response from the Mehlville Public School District School Board President Tom Diehl.

Now let’s be clear.  School Board members serve at no pay.  They are elected volunteers who are supposed to serve the patrons of the district in providing the best education possible.  Most do the best job they can.  Unfortunately, some forget who they actually serve and either believe that they work for the administration or, worse yet, that they are above questioning by those who put them in place.

Mr. Diehl and others on the Mehlville School Board appear to have reached the latter point of view.

Take, for example, the recent vote to place a 25% tax levy increase on the November ballot.  I’m not sure, but perhaps they have missed the fact that the country is in an economic recession. But like most school districts and boards, they use the tired and worn refrain “it’s for the children” to justify their actions.  It has been my experience that as soon as that phrase is deployed, it is usually the last resort for those lacking a winning argument for what they want to do.

The Mehlville School Board doesn’t have a stellar track record in making good decisions.  One doesn’t have to look far to see this fact demonstrated.

Take the salary offer they made to their superintendent this year.  They offered him a whopping $44,088 increase (roughly 24%) plus a $25,000 bonus to stay on as superintendent, according to the Post-Dispatch. Teachers were being given approximately a 3% increase.

A little problem developed.  The district wanted to put a tax increase on the ballot to raise approximately $106 million.  It seems that when focus groups were asked about the superintendent salary increase, they were very much inclined NOT to vote for the tax levy.

As a result, the superintendent decided he really didn’t need all that money and settled for a measly 6% increase in salary.  After all, the other 18% that he would have received “was for the children.”

Apparently the superintendent and the board, which rescinded the offer after the superintendent decided he didn’t need it after all, think that by declining and rescinding the outrageous salary increase that all is forgiven.  District residents should remember that the offer was made, it was considered and that only after the focus groups indicated that the salary increase could cause problems for the tax levy increase was it “declined” and “rescinded”.

Fortunately, a grass roots group has sprung up to fight this ill-timed and ill-considered tax levy increase.  According to the Call and its website, the Mehlville Community  Taxpayers Association (MCTA) was formed to

oppose the Mehlville School District’s Proposition C, citing what it contends is the Board of Education’s lack of credibility and the community’s inability to afford the proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase.
Now, it’s not uncommon for there to be opposition to tax levy increases.  Groups often spring up in opposition to such proposals.  But in this case and under these economic conditions, a 25% tax levy increase is rather outrageous.  I guess that’s why the Call reports that the opposition includes,

“four former Mehlville Board of Education members — Kurt Witzel, Dick Roehl, Matt Chellis and state Rep. Walt Bivins — have voiced their opposition to Prop C. Also opposed is Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer, who helped lead an effort to defeat the school district’s Proposition A — a 97-cent tax-rate increase — in February 2006.”

(You can hear Aaron Hilmer’s discussion with a supporter of the tax levy on the Mark Reardon show on KMOX here.)
It’s apparent that the opposition is more than just a few people who are against yet another tax increase.  It’s opposed by some very knowledgeable people who make some very good points about why now is not the time for a 25% increase in the tax levy during these economic times. -Carl Bearden

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attend the MCTA Kick-off Rally TONIGHT!

Do you oppose more wasteful spending and huge salary and benefit increases for Mehlville employees? Then attend the Mehlville Community Taxpayer's Association's kick-off rally at 7 PM on TONIGHT (Oct. 14) at the South County Holiday Inn. 

Tell your friends and neighbors to join us in opposition to the massive tax increase proposed by the big spenders at the Mehlville School District. 

WHO: The Mehlville Community Taxpayer's Association
WHAT: MCTA Kick-Off Rally
WHEN: Thursday, October 14 at 7 PM
WHERE: South County Holiday Inn 
6921 South Lindbergh Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63125
(314) 892-3600

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aaron Hilmer on KMOX AM 1120 Today

Aaron Hilmer represented the MCTA on KMOX AM 1120's Mark Reardon's show today. If you have not heard it yet click HERE. Aaron did a masterful job unmasking the true intent of Proposition C. Great show Aaron!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mehlville Superintendent, Terry Noble in the news

We recommend a very revealing article in today's Post-Dispatch that explains the extremely generous teacher's pension system in Missouri. Below is a couple of quotes:

• Teachers and administrators in the state contribute 14 percent of their salaries to retirement, and school districts match that.
• Those in the system do not pay Social Security taxes while working or draw Social Security benefits once retired.
• Retired educators receive benefits that include cost-of-living increases, set by a formula based in part by the three highest consecutive years of salary.
• A retiree with 30 years would take in 75 percent of his or her highest average salary. Those who worked 40 years could have a pension equal to 100 percent of their former pay.

"That's where Mehlville Superintendent Terry Noble found himself. Like Senti, Noble felt he was at the prime of his career, yet financially it made sense to retire.

"It's at this point when superintendents have the most to offer," said Noble, 59. "But when you reach this stage, you either have to move up (in salary) or move out." ...In Noble's case, the Mehlville School Board offered him a 24 percent pay increase, plus a $25,000 bonus for staying another three years — though he later accepted a smaller raise when the controversy began to cloud the district's proposed tax increase.

Both offers led to a public outcry at a time when many districts are raising tax rates and slowing or even freezing teacher pay.

But the extra perks worked. Noble delayed his retirement and continues as superintendent this school year. Spiegel did the same and remains at the helm of Ferguson-Florissant schools, although he plans to retire in June.

But retaining superintendents long term through salary increases is difficult. Each time salaries go up, so do the retirement benefits and the temptation to call it quits.

Noble's contract now runs through June. He said he hadn't yet decided if he'd stay after that."

Read the full article at:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Order a No on C Yard Sign!

If you would like to proudly display a NO on C sign in your yard, please call 314-892-9411 and leave a message including your full name, address, and a contact number. 

Let the big spenders at the Mehlville School District how you feel!

From Today's Oakville Call - MCTA in the News!

Group opposed to Prop C sets kickoff rally
October 06, 2010 -A newly formed group opposing the Mehlville School District's Proposition C will sponsor a kickoff rally at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Holiday Inn South County Center, 6921 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, a grass-roots, nonpartisan citizens' group, is sponsoring the forum.

The MCTA is opposed to the proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase voters will consider Nov. 2, citing what it contends is the Board of Education's lack of credibility and the community's inability to afford Prop C, which district officials estimate will generate $15.4 million in new revenue annually.

MCTA members recently told the Call they established their organization because of a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the representation being provided by Board of Education members and their belief the board is out of touch with the community.

Visit for additional information about the MCTA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

MCTA Rally on Oct. 14

The Mehlville Community Taxpayer's Association will hold it's kick-off rally at 7 PM on Thursday, October 14 at the South County Holiday Inn. The meeting will include speakers from the community who will outline the campaign against Proposition C. 

Tell your friends and neighbors to join us in opposition to the massive tax increase proposed by the big spenders at the Mehlville School District. 

WHO: The Mehlville Community Taxpayer's Association

WHAT: MCTA Kick-Off Rally

WHEN: Thursday, October 14 at 7 PM

WHERE: South County Holiday Inn 
6921 South Lindbergh Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63125
(314) 892-3600