Keep Kirkwood great

In 2005, President George W. Bush was sworn in for a second term, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the top song on Billboard Hot 100 was Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” This year was the last time KSD asked for an increase in operating taxes.

Clearly, the U.S. and KSD have changed drastically in the past 10 years. However, one thing that has remained constant is KSD’s dedication to the children in the community. In order to continue to meet the needs of all Kirkwood children, KSD is seeking an operating tax levy of $0.78 per $100 of assessed property value. This levy, called Proposition A, will be voted on by residents of Kirkwood Nov. 3. Prop A will serve to maintain current low class sizes, maintain safe schools and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.

Yes, Prop A asks residents to dig a little deeper in their pockets, but it’s worth it. Prop A will continue to allow the schools within the district to flourish, thereby letting the children who attend them to excel. One of the reasons KHS was recognized as No. 2 in state by Newsweek’s “America’s Top High Schools” is because of the great teaching staff. Prop A will serve to help pay these teachers and encourage other teachers like them to come to the district. These teachers are the reason the average ACT score for KHS seniors graduating in 2013 was 23.9, while the national average ACT composite score is 20.9, according to kirkwoodschools.org.

The number of students enrolled in the district is currently 5,688, a number that has increased by 688 students since 2009. Current residential student enrollment has increased by 120 students in the past year alone. Because Kirkwood is such an attractive town for families with children due to the quality of the schools, in-district enrollment is projected to increase by 11 percent by 2019 according to kirkwoodschools.org.

Prop A is needed to accommodate these growing changes. According to keepkirkwoodgreat.org, teacher salaries and benefits make up 87 percent of KSD operational spending, and if Prop A doesn’t pass, KSD will need to reduce spending in these areas. It is likely the student-teacher classroom ratio will increase and some teaching positions may be eliminated. This could also require students to pay fees to keep beloved KHS programs like band and journalism running at the level they are today.

I understand many ‘no’ voters are worried about the tax increase Prop A will bring. It’s true that a house with an assessed property value of $250,000 will generate a $370 real estate tax increase beginning in the 2016 tax year. However, these voters might want to think about how the tax affects the children of the community they choose to live in. Each resident’s vote affects every child in the district, and the children in the district are the future of Kirkwood.