In parallel with discussions regarding design, the Ladue Schools Board of Education and administration are also discussing and analyzing how these projects could be funded. The primary drivers of these discussions are determining which components of each project will bring the most long-term benefit to students, while also identifying ways to achieve these goals with minimal tax burden on our community.
While the district continues to work with the architectural and construction management firms to find ways to reduce costs so a future request of taxpayers is not any larger than necessary, these improvements are currently estimated, including all design, construction and furnishings, as follows:
Possible Approaches to Funding
Through the survey which will be conducted from mid-October to mid-November, the Board of Education will be able to gauge support for two possible approaches to funding these projects.
- Taxpayers approve raising $126.2 million from the sale of bonds for all of these projects to be completed. In this scenario, the estimated increase in the debt service levy is $0.10, which equates to an increase of $95/yr. ($7.92/mo) on a $500,000 house. (To see what this would mean for your home, use the tax calculator in the next section.)
- Taxpayers approve raising $75.8 million from the sale of bonds to address issues only at the four elementary schools. These four projects could be completed without raising the debt service levy, which currently stands at $0.78. Improvement projects aimed at addressing issues at Ladue Middle School would be placed on hold.
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.
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.)
- If $0.10 was added to the current levy… $500,000 (home value) x .19 divided by 100 x $0.88 = $836/year ($69.67/mo.)
Notes on Current District Financials and Tax Status
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.