ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - Tough decisions must be made in the Francis Howell School District. On Thursday night, there was a packed house for the district’s school board meeting. This comes after residents voted against a property tax increase Tuesday that would have provided funding for the St. Charles County school district. Now, the Francis Howell school board has to slash up to $10 million from its budget.
At Thursday’s meeting, no cuts were made official, but they could range from cutting teachers to scrapping school bus routes that service thousands of families.
School Board President Mark Lafata said, “The voters have spoken. We’ll live within the budget we’ve been afforded, and we’ll try to make the best decision we can to educate kids.”
All this comes after the school district already slashed $8 million in spending for the coming school year, which starts next week. The problem, according to Lafata, is that property values have been decreasing in the district, and state funding has remained flat.
At the meeting, board members expressed their desire to avoid impacting students’ experience in the classroom, and avoid layoffs for this school year. But still, each cut, whether it’s a hiring screening tool or the new Chinese language offering, has an impact. Teachers’ Association President Anita Kuehner explained, “We have built such a good education system here in the last 10 years that now we will begin to dismantle it to make our budget. So students will suffer.”
Once specific cuts are determined, Lafata says they may be implemented in a two-phase approach, with some cuts this year and more next year.