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St. Louis school leaders asking voters to approve Proposition S next week

City and school leaders are hoping you'll approve a measure that will allow them to borrow $160 million. They say voting yes will not raise your taxes.

ST. LOUIS — The primary election in St. Louis is less than a week away. City and school leaders are hoping you'll approve a measure that will allow them to borrow $160 million in order to improve schools. 

They say voting yes will not raise your taxes. That’s because if approved, the city would be able to take out a low-interest loan.

"We want to kind of brighten up the atmosphere,” said Deputy Superintendent of Operations Square Watson.

Low lighting inside of Herzog Elementary school is just a snapshot of what several city schools are battling.

Water leaks from the ceiling, roofing repair needs and water fountains that need to be replaced are a few of the concerns. It's why St. Louis city and school officials are pushing Proposition S. It’s a measure on next week's primary election ballot that would allow leaders to borrow $160 million to fulfill school needs.

"As a parent, it kind of breaks my heart that they go to school, have all these great experiences and then it gets to a point in their day where they're like ‘I wasn't able to use the bathroom because the stall was broken," said School Board President Matt Davis. "We didn't have enough time. The water wasn't working for whatever reason.”

He said the proposition would allow those upgrades to begin without raising your taxes.

"Tuckpointing that needs to be done, window replacement, there's fence replacements around us but stuff like bathrooms. You have wear and tear from 200, 300, 500 kids using it for the last 10 years. Things need to be improved,” he added.

"Very much a no-brainer,” said Gregory FX Daly, the Collector of Revenue for the city. He sees the need. "We all do it to our homes. Our homes grow older gradually. We've got to improve them. Without a doubt, this is the best thing we can do for the city of St. Louis."

Since some 40 school buildings are more than 100 years old, they say it's about creating a welcoming environment for students and teachers.

"So they want to come to school. They want to come to work. When they come into the building, we want to give them the wow impact. The wow effect,” Watson added.

"We've certainly learned during Covid, things like good bathrooms, water fountains, good, safe clean ventilation air handling systems are absolutely critical…Trying to make do with a bathroom that was last built in 1927. It's not up to today's standards,” Davis said.

If this measure doesn't pass, the school board could decide to raise taxes in order to get these needs met. Doing that doesn’t require voters’ approval. The board has done it in the past and leaders are hoping to avoid that route this go round.

The primary election is on Aug. 2.

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