Webster Groves School District plans to spend $28 million on renovating its schools to relieve overcrowding and bring the schools into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Webster-Kirkwood Times.
“Right now we have six elementary classrooms that are located outside the walls of the school, so they are trailers,” said superintendent Dr. Sarah Riss.
“If you go to Avery, you will see the halls lined with tables and chairs with people doing work because there’s just not room in the classroom,” said chief communications officer Cathy Vespereny.
“We started seeing growth probably the first year I was superintendent, so that was seven years ago,” said Riss. “Most of the growth has been at elementary, which is probably pretty typical.”
“We’re up about 300 students during that period of time,” said Vespereny.
Some of the plans the district has are converting Hixson Middle School into sixth through eighth grade, creating a circular drive around Hixson (west of Moss Field), converting Steger into an elementary school (which would include Computer School students) and also address ADA issues at Clark, Edgar, Hudson and Steger.
“[Moss Field] was built in 1948, and there really haven’t been what we call major renovations done to that field,” said Riss. “Major is redoing the concrete; you’re redoing the track.”
“We would have to relocate locker rooms as well because we take the space we use at Hixson currently for the locker rooms, and we would build new space to the sixth grade over there,” said Riss.
“We’d have new locker rooms, new food stands and bathrooms at Moss Field, which would be great,” said Riss.
“The expansion that is going to happen at Hixson is prompting some of the changes at Moss,” Vespereny said.
Benefits would be one fewer transition for students, ADA compliance at four elementary schools, enhanced safety at Moss Field, and additional space for elementary students.
Webster Groves has one of the highest tax rights according to Riss.
“We don’t have a lot of commercial property,” said Riss. “We’re predominantly a residential district, and so that makes our property taxes higher.”
The benefit of additional space is key as “the elementary schools are over capacity by 180 students, or the equivalent of 12 classrooms,” according to Webster-Kirkwood Times.
“Committee members recommended that the board consider putting the $28 million bond issue on the ballot in April. If approved, homeowners with a $200,000 house would pay an additional $106.40 in annual property taxes,” according to Webster-Kirkwood Times.
“I believe the Webster Groves School District community, whether they have children in the school district or they’re going to have children in the school district, strongly know that education is the top priority,” said Riss. “Our kids and our staff members deserve great places to go to school each and every day.”