In parallel with discussions regarding design, the Ladue Schools Board of Education and administration also analyzed how these projects would be funded. The primary driver of these discussions was determining which components of each project would bring the most long-term benefit to students, while also identifying ways to achieve these goals with minimal tax burden on our community.
Proposition L improvements are estimated as follows. These include all cost components, including all design, construction, technology and furnishings.
Voters approved raising $126 million from the sale of bonds on April 6, 2021. The estimated increase in the debt service levy is $0.08, which equates to an increase of $76/yr. ($6.33/mo) on a $500,000 house. (To see what this would mean for your home, use the tax calculator in the next section.)
Important Note: Voters approve the sale of bonds which increases the district’s debt, even if it doesn’t raise the debt service levy. See the Understanding the Debt Service Levy section below.
Calculate Your Potential Increase
Calculate the potential increase for your home by filling in your homes appraised value below. This is the amount St. Louis County determines your home is worth or for which your home could be sold. See the next section for more detail.
- (example: 567999)
When Will Prop L and Past Bonds Be Paid Off?
The bonds sold as a result of Prop L passing will be 20-year bonds. That being said, when the district identifies opportunities to restructure the debt to reduce the cost, the term can sometimes be shortened.
It may also help to know the status of the district’s current debt… Payments for previous bond issues will be complete by 2031 and 2036. Of the current $0.78, approximately half of the levy ($.39) will be eliminated beginning in 2031, with the remaining ($0.39) being eliminated in 2036. Please note that these exact figures are for example only. Market conditions, property tax values and a number of other factors will play into the exact rate reductions and timing.
Understanding the “Debt Service Levy”
Voters approve the total amount of the bonds to be issued – not the levy increase. The precise increase in the levy (if any) is dependent upon a number of factors, with the primary factors being changes in overall district property assessments and the status of existing bond debt. The district sets the levy each year based on the funds required to repay the district’s total bond debt in the upcoming year.
Increases to a homeowner’s annual individual property tax can be calculated using the formula below and is also the calculation used in the automatic calculator in the previous section. Please note:
- Appraised Value is the amount St. Louis County determines a home is worth or for which a home could be sold.
- Taxable Value (or Assessed Value) is the amount upon which taxes are calculated and is equal to 19 percent of Appraised Value for residential property. (A home with an Appraised Value of $100,000 would have a Taxable Value of $19,000.)
- Taxes are levied per $100 of the Taxable (Assessed) Value.
Appraised Home Value x .19 divided by 100 x levy
Examples for a home appraised at $500,000:
- With current levy… $500,000 (home value) x .19 divided by 100 x $0.78 (current levy) = $741/year ($61.75/mo.)
- With $0.08 added to the current levy… $500,000 (home value) x .19 divided by 100 x $0.86 = $817/year ($68.08/mo.)
Notes on Current District Financials and Tax Status
The Ladue School District’s total tax rate was lower in 2020 than in 2013. It may seem like the tax rates only go up. That’s because we are required to ask for voter permission to raise the operating levy beyond that allowed by the state to compensate for the cost of living and/or to incur additional debt to improve facilities. However, these levies can, and often do, change on an annual basis to adjust for changes in the total property value of the district, the amount of debt owed on previously approved bonds (which are periodically refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates) and other factors. As a result, the rates often go down.
The Ladue School District has a AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s and is one of the few public school districts in Missouri, and one of less than 100 in the nation, to hold this designation.
In 2020, the Ladue School District had the lowest combined operating and debt service levy of any school district in St. Louis County at $3.5857. We would have to raise the levy by more than $.20 for this not to continue to be the case (assuming no change in other district’s levies.)
The Ladue School District continues to have the lowest operating tax levy in St. Louis County at $2.8057. Please note that the Ladue School District is made up of all or part of 10 different municipalities, with 60 percent of the district lying outside the City of Ladue.
Ladue Schools is able to maintain a tradition of excellence while ranking sixth among St. Louis County school districts in per-student spending.
From 2012 through the 2019-20 school year, the district operated under a 2% expenditure increase parameter as set forth by the Board of Education in order to prolong the need to ask the community for additional tax dollars to support day-to-day operations. This parameter has been increased to 2.7% beginning in the 2020-21 school year and there continues to be no need to increase the operating tax in the foreseeable future.
Bond refunding has saved taxpayers over $2 million. Through a process allowing the district to refinance taxpayer-approved bond issues into lower interest rates, $18,995,000 in bonds were refunded in October 2014 with a total district savings of $2,176,522 over the remaining life of the issue. (This did not require extending the length of the repayment.) The bonds were sold by local institutions and local residents were given the first opportunity to purchase them.
New compensation strategies and structures have been implemented. During the course of the last few years, salary structures have been put in place for certified staff, support staff and administrators. The primary goals have been to rectify salary inconsistencies, to align employee salaries with those in comparable districts, to implement a process capable of maintaining a fair and equitable system going forward, and to improve budget forecasting.