Kirkwood Schools on Budget Freeze after Voters Turned Down Tax Hike

By Bock, Jessica | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Kirkwood Schools on Budget Freeze after Voters Turned Down Tax Hike


Bock, Jessica, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


KIRKWOOD * After voters turned down a proposed tax increase, Kirkwood schools Superintendent Tom Williams has announced an immediate budget freeze.

During the coming months, administrators and Kirkwood School Board members will look for savings and cuts to the district's operating expenses. The short-term goal is to find immediate cost- saving measures to trim $1 million from this year's budget, Williams said at Monday's School Board meeting.

The budget freeze affects administrative, teaching and support staff positions, as well as new purchases. The freeze will continue until a complete plan is developed and approved by the board.

The announcement comes two weeks after voters turned down a proposed 78-cent tax increase, which district leaders said was necessary to maintain the current level of quality and services in Kirkwood schools, where enrollment has increased 13 percent during the last 10 years. Board President E.J. Miller said that while revenue has increased in the district due to new construction, the cost of educating resident students is up significantly more.

Miller said the defeat has necessitated dramatic budget cuts to make up for a $6 million shortfall.

"Let's be clear. To get a $6 million budget cut, it means we will be slashing per-pupil spending by $1,000," Miller said. "It means we will be balancing the budget on the backs of our kids."

Nearly 60 percent of voters turned down a tax increase at the polls on Nov. 3, with 6,884 against to 4,776 in favor. There were strong feelings on both sides.

Those against the measure said Kirkwood leaders overspend, and pointed to teacher salaries among the highest in the region. …

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