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Election Update: Prop K passes, school districts welcome new directors

Proposition K

Fort Zumwalt voters approved a 48-cent tax increase that will help balance the budget, increase teacher salaries and pay for technology teachers at all 16 elementary schools. The district has been dipping into reserves to maintain most programs and services as enrollment has risen as revenue has fallen. The distrcit also has experienced administration cuts and hiring freezes. The tax increase will amount to about $150-180 a year for home owners in the district.

On April 5, after voting ended and the results were in Fort Zumwalt district Superintendent, Dr. Bernard DuBray posted a letter on the district website expressing his thankfulness for voters supporting Prop K.

“The Fort Zumwalt district learned from the election results that Proposition K was successful in achieving a simple majority vote. The 48-cent proposal will generate approximately $10 million beginning December, 2016, that will be used to balance the budget, hire specialized staff members for our elementary schools and make our salaries more competitive in our county,” DuBray wrote. “This is the first tax increase in 12 years and it will be a well needed shot-in-the-arm for our district.”

In a phone call to Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, Du Bray added: “We were very excited when we saw the election results come in. It was generally positive all night when we saw the percentages. I am really excited that the public is supporting their schools again, the district will be good stewards of their money.” 

Francis Howell Board of Education elections

The three-year terms of Francis Howell Board of Education directors Dr. Cynthia Bice and Amy McEvoy expired in April. Elected to fill those seats on the board were Mike Hoehn and Michelle Walker. 

Hoehn, a previous Francis Howell board member, in response to a Mid Rivers Newsmagazine request for information prior to the election, said: “I’m running for the board because a quality education is the single most important thing we can provide our children. My first priority is the safety and academic success of our students. This cannot be achieved without getting the district budget under control. The current board gave raises to staff creating a deficit budget that is depleting district’s reserves. Board cuts to staffing and additional proposed cuts including the elimination of most bussing will create issues with student safety and academic success. Third, we need to maintain local control over our curriculum instead of national standards.”

Hoehn could not be reached for comments post-election.

Michelle Walker has three children in the district and is a Francis Howell High alumnae and a United States Navy veteran. Of the election, she said: “This was the most active school board election I’ve ever seen with everyone involved from both sides. There was so much engagement and my hope is that my opponents take the energy from this campaign and put it towards the school district and community going forward.”

Although new to the board of education, Walker has been on the district’s community relations committee and as an Alumni Association officer. Walker said she is passionate about wanting the community to benefit from Francis Howell Schools.

“I want all the stake holders and the patrons that worked on their campaign to stay as involved as they were. I encourage them to continue in the same way in the school district. We all need to keep working together to make this community and district a better place,” said Walker, who received nearly a thousand votes more than Hoehn. “I’m very grateful to everyone who voted. It means so much.”

Fort Zumwalt Board of Education elections

Scott Alan Grasser and Mike Swaringim are the winners of the Fort Zumwalt board of education election beating out Arnie C. Dienoff and Genelle Speed-Hale.

In his response to Mid Rivers Newsmagazine’s request for information pre-election, Grasser said: “I simply want to see the Fort Zumwalt school district continue to improve and help raise the standard of education for the area.”

Swaringim, who has served on the school board since 1999, said pre-election that he feels that he has “a responsibility to give back to the community.”

“It is a privilege to serve the taxpayers and children of the Fort Zumwalt School District,” Swaringim said at that time. “I believe in operating the district in a fiscally sound and responsible manner. I want to see a balanced budget, and retain talented staff and teachers without cutting services.”

Neither Grasser nor Swaringim could be reached for post-election comments.

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