Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

600 Volunteers to Urge Voters to OK Tax Increase Teachers Back Plan, but Some Resent Order to Help Out

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

600 Volunteers to Urge Voters to OK Tax Increase Teachers Back Plan, but Some Resent Order to Help Out

Article excerpt

The Rockwood School District is scrambling to cover all the bases in an effort to win a tax election Feb. 8.

The district is mailing a 16-page brochure about the tax proposals to 26,732 households in St. Louis County's fastest-growing school district. The project will cost the district about $5,000. District officials also are holding meetings for parents and residents.

As a centerpiece of the campaign, the district has planned for roughly 600 volunteers to make door-to-door visits, said Dan J. Burns, director of communications for the district.

Although a few teachers are uncomfortable with the push to volunteer, the tax proposals have received strong support from teachers and parents.

District officials have asked employees and parents in elementary school areas to give up at least one of five Saturday mornings before the election to promote the tax proposals.

School officials want voters to approve two proposals designed to raise the district's tax rate by 56 cents, to $4.50 for each $100 of assessed valuation. The district's tax rate this year is $3.94.

The addition of 934 students last fall pushed enrollment in the district to 18,384. The flood of new students has forced officials to look at new taxes and new buildings in the district that covers much of west St. Louis County.

At Eureka Elementary School, Celestine Knox, the principal, wrote, "Aggressive door-to-door canvassing is a must if we expect to have a successful referendum."

Her memo to the staff also said, "Everyone is expected to volunteer for at least one Saturday morning."

The husband of a district employee complained anonymously that the memo appeared threatening.

District employees at several schools have made similar complaints, said Earl Martin, president of the Rockwood National Education Association, a union that represents 900 of the district's 1,000 teachers. …

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