Board places $23 million zero tax rate increase bond issue on April ballot
Board places $23 million zero tax rate increase bond issue on April ballot
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
The Pattonville Board of Education on Jan. 10 approved a new facilities plan for the district and voted to place a $23 million zero tax rate increase bond issue to fund the plan on the April 4 election ballot for voter approval. Passage of the bond issue will not increase the district's debt service tax rate, which is used solely to fund construction and major repair and improvement projects in the district.

The new facilities plan includes projects that address the following priorities:
  • Enhancing school safety and security;
  • Ongoing maintenance and repair of aging facilities, including energy-efficient updates;
  • Alleviating space issues at the elementary schools by creating an early childhood center in the former Briar Crest Elementary School; and
  • Providing facilities to help students get involved in school and address their long-term fitness and health needs.
The facilities plan includes projects at all schools in the district. A school-by-school list can be found here.

Creating an early childhood center at Briar Crest will free up classroom space at Pattonville's elementary schools and enable the district to maintain lower elementary class sizes. Pattonville's early childhood program has classrooms in most elementary schools and the Pattonville Learning Center. Over the last few years, the program has grown, requiring more classroom space. Briar Crest closed in 2012 due to budget constraints and elementary students were redistricted into existing buildings. Approval of the bond issue will enable 14 preschool classrooms currently housed throughout the district to move into Briar Crest, along with the Parents as Teachers program and early childhood administrative staff. Renovations at Briar Crest will provide 14 classrooms designed for the specific needs of preschool children with the ability to add five more classrooms. Pattonville's early childhood program is paid for by a combination of state/federal funds and parent tuition and provides services for students ages 3 through 5, including those with disabilities.

Pattonville has the capacity to issue up to $23 million in bonds without raising its debt service tax rate to complete projects in the facilities plan. As promised to voters during bond issues in 2006 and 2010, Pattonville has maintained its debt service levy - the portion of its tax rate that can only be used for paying off bond issue debt - at 49 cents per $100 of assessed value.

More on funding the bond issue

What is a bond issue?
Typically, school districts use bond issues to fund large and long-range construction, maintenance or repair projects that would be too costly to cover with existing budget funds. In a bond issue, a school district borrows money by issuing promissory notes that it will repay its investors. In a zero tax rate increase bond issue, a school district is able to fund repayment of the bonds through its existing budget, without raising its tax rate that is devoted to paying down debts (debt service levy).

What is a zero tax rate increase bond issue?
A zero tax rate increase bond issue works much like a home equity loan, where a homeowner who pays down his or her debt can spend up to his or her credit limit again for new projects without paying more in his or her monthly loan payment.
 
How can we complete these projects without raising taxes?
Bonds are low-interest loans the district pays back using funds from its debt service levy. Funds from the debt service levy cannot be used to pay for salaries, classroom supplies or other routine, budgeted items that support teaching and learning in the classroom. Pattonville can borrow up to $23 million in bond funds without raising the debt service levy used to repay the financing. This is the same situation that occurred when Pattonville voters approved zero tax rate increase bond issues in 2006 and 2010 to complete repairs and improvements to schools in the district. Pattonville committed to keeping its debt service levy at 49 cents when voters approved these bond issues, and the district has kept this promise despite being legally able to adjust the rate due to decreases in property values. With the new bond issue on the April 4 election ballot, Pattonville will be able to complete the projects in a new facilities plan using its same existing levy.