Common District Questions
Q: Can I choose which elementary school my child attends, as long as I live in the district?
A: Generally speaking, no. Only in very specific circumstances will a student be allowed to attend an elementary school other than the one serving the student’s home address. The district’s policy has recently changed. For specific information, see Policy JCB.
Q: How do I know if a home I’m considering is in the Ladue School District and in what elementary attendance area I would be residing?
A: The Ladue School District serves all or part of ten different municipalities, so it can be confusing. We encourage you to depend on district resources, rather than friends, neighbors or real estate agents. View information on how to determine your elementary school area.
Q: How will I find out about school closings when there’s bad weather this winter?
A: The district utilizes many channels of communication when the decision is made to close schools due to inclement weather. Local radio and television stations are notified, information is posted on the home page of the district Web site and the Connect-Ed voice messaging system is used to contact all staff and parents. View late start/school closings information
Q: What's behind all the changes in bus transportation?
A: See Bus Service Guidelines for a complete explanation.
Q: What percentage of the budget goes to employee compensation and what is the breakdown by employee category? Added: 3/29/2012
A: By nature, education is labor intensive. Like most school districts in Missouri, 75-80% of the Ladue Schools’ operating expenditures go to employee salary and benefits. Following is a breakdown of how those funds break down by employee category.
|Employee Category||Percent of Total Employee Compensation
(Including Salaries and Benefits)
|Support Personnel (Office staff, custodial and maintenance staff, technology staff, etc.)||13.6%|
|Administrators (Superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals, directors, etc.)||8.89%|
|Student Support (counselors, librarians, nurses, psychologists)||6.33%|
|Early Childhood Education||3.91%|
|Other Personnel and Compensation (stipends, substitutes, teacher assistants, supervisory assistants, senior consultants, etc.)||8.68%|
Q: What is the Hancock Amendment? Added: 6/15/2011 | Update: 2/9/2012
A: The Hancock Amendment provides protection for Missouri property taxpayers. For any year property assessments increase more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), state law requires school districts to lower their levies so the total tax dollars collected do not exceed the previous year’s collection, plus the Consumer Price Index. (New construction is the only exception.)
In this way, state law provides property owners a safeguard from having their property taxes raised due to increases in assessments higher than increases in the cost of living.
Q: Is it true the Ladue School District has a large amount of debt? Added: 4/5/2011 | Update - 2/9/2012
A: Clearly, the answer to this is subjective, but here are the facts. As of the district’s 2010-11 audit, the district had approximately $80 million in long-term debt. This debt is the result of the district requesting, and voters passing, specific bond levies for building renovation and construction. As all school district’s face considerable expenses to build, maintain and renovate their facilities from time to time, nearly all schools have some bond levy debt.
As you will see below, as a percentage of allowable bond debt, Ladue Schools is 14 out of 21 school districts. When comparing all debt, Ladue Schools drops to 16.
|Comparison of General Obligation (Bond) Debt Among St. Louis County Public Schools|
|Data as of December 31, 2010|
|School District||School Code||Assessed Valuation||Total Allowable GO Bond Debt||General Obligation (Bond) Debt||Percent of GO Bond Debt Limit|
|Comparison of All Debt Among St. Louis County Public Schools|
|Data as of December 31, 2010|
|School District||Assessed Valuation||Long and Short Term Debt||Percent of Total Debt to Assessed Valuation|
Q: What was the result of the Ladue School District not applying for Qualified Schools Construction Bonds? Added: 4/4/2011
A: In 2010, the Ladue School District was eligible, but did not apply, for Qualified Schools Construction Bonds (QSCBs). These were extremely low interest fifteen-year bonds available to school districts for building construction projects. These bonds were offered as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus program. (They are not related to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, associated with financial institutions.)
With the passing of Proposition O, the district was approved to sell $32 million in bonds. This would have made the district eligible for approximately $4.2 million in QSCB bonds. The subsidy on the bonds over time would have totaled approximately $1,680,000 over 15 years, or saved the district approximately $112,000 per year in bond payments.
As context, a single cent of Ladue Schools bond levy tax rate is currently equal to approximately $147,000 per year. Therefore, the impact of not having received these bonds would not have been sufficient to change the levy rate on an annual basis. However, over time, it would have resulted in less debt to the district.
The district did issue Build America Bonds (BABs) in the amount of $29.7 million. Build America Bonds were issued as part of the stimulus program as well. As a result of issuing the Build America Bonds, the district will be receiving $8.4 million in subsidy payments from the federal government over a twenty-year period.
Important Note: Subsidies on general obligation (debt service) bonds (whether QSCB or BAB) are paid to the district over the entire repayment period (i.e. 15 or 20 years.) They are not paid as a lump sum and are only available to be used in repayment of general obligation bonds. These funds have no impact on the district’s operating budget.
Q: Do we leave any federal or state money “on the table”?
A: No. The district accepts all federal and state funding for which we are eligible with the exception of “Title I Funds.” The district does not accept these minimal funds because, by accepting them, we would be required to change academic programming in a way that would be less effective educationally and more costly than our current method, even with this funding taken into account.
Q: Why does the Clayton School District receive so much more federal funding than the Ladue School District does?
A: They don’t. Both districts receive only about 1% of their funding from the federal government.
However, Clayton receives approximately 7% of their revenue from the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (also known as the “voluntary transfer program.”) Clayton remains an active participant in this program from which Ladue Schools stopped accepting new students in 1999. The students enrolled in Ladue Schools from the VICC program have migrated through our district’s curriculum. As these students graduate, the funding for them stops. We currently have only two seniors at the high school as a result of this program.
Note: The district made the decision to discontinue accepting new transfer students when the terms of the agreement changed and it was estimated in three to four years (and every year thereafter) the Ladue School District would be required to increasingly subsidize the cost of educating the students enrolled through the program.
In addition, Clayton School District accepts tuition students and the Ladue School District does not. The funding from tuition students accounts for another 1-2% of Clayton’s revenue.
Q: Given our budget situation and growing enrollment, what class size guidelines will be followed in school year 2011-12?
A: The anticipated class size guidelines for the 2011-12 school year are as follows. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) “desirable” class size recommendations are included for purposes of comparison.
|Grade||DESE Desirable||Ladue 2011-12 Maximum||# Required to Trigger Teacher Assistant or Section Addition K-5|
|K-2||20||23 students in all sections|
|3-4||22||25 students in all sections|
|5-6||25||27 (Grade 6)||28 students in all sections (Grade 5)|
- It should not be assumed all classes will have the maximum students.
- In some elementary school buildings, lack of classroom capacity may prevent additional sections from being formed. In these cases, additional Teacher Assistants would be added to existing sections to assist the primary teacher. (Teacher Assistants are not utilized above grade five.)
- Specific funding for additional Teacher Assistants will be included in the 2011-12 budget. Once these funds are used, no additional Teacher Assistants will be added.
- There will not be overcrowding issues at the high school. However, as a result of budget constraints, classes will not be offered unless minimum course load is reached.
Q: Do we know from where all these additional students are coming?
A: Yes. For many years, the district has tracked from what type of educational institutions our students come, and to what type of institutions our students go, if they arrive after kindergarten and/or leave us before graduation. The categories tracked include: private, public, parochial, special, home school, out of area and other.
The Egress/Ingress History clearly reflects the Ladue School District gains more students each year than it loses.
In addition, it shows the reason for the district’s growth cannot be contributed to just one “category” of students. Rather, the influx is a result of varying contributions from all of these categories combined.
Q: How many non-residents attend the Ladue School District? Update: 2/9/2012
A: Ladue School District does not accept students on a tuition basis. However, there are circumstances in which, by state law, a student who may not seem to be a resident must be allowed to attend the district. Following are definitions for these groups and the number of students in each group as of January 5, 2012.
Students of Families in Transition (Formerly Known as Homeless) – The state requires districts to enroll any student lacking a “fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence.” Students may attend the district if the family is living outside the district in a hotel, with another family, or in a shelter due to financial difficulty. We currently have 14 students of Families in Transition in the district.
Waiver Students – Under Missouri statutes, a student may enroll in our district and apply for a “Waiver for Proof of Residency” if the adult with whom the student resides is not a biological parent or legal guardian and they can prove hardship or good cause. These waivers are approved by the Board of Education. We currently have 20 students attending on a Waiver.
Affidavits – Under Missouri residency guidelines, when a child is residing in the district with a parent who is not a property owner or leaseholder, the parent can apply for an affidavit to enroll their child in the district. The property owner signs a notarized document and must provide proof of residency. There are 151 students attending with an Affidavit.
It is important to note three things about these groups of students:
- The district continuously investigates all situations in which there is reason to suspect that a student is being fraudulently enrolled.
- Investigating these situations is a time-consuming and expensive process and should not be done unless reasonable doubt exists.
- Due to privacy laws, the district is not at liberty to identify for the public the specific situations that have made these students eligible to attend. Unfortunately, when the district is not forthcoming with private student information, the assumption is sometimes made that no legitimate reason exists.
There are two additional types of non-resident students.
Non-Resident Tuition-Paying Students (As Listed on the Monthly Enrollment Report)
As required by law, the only instance where the Ladue School District accepts non-resident students on a tuition basis is when the parents or guardians of these students either own, or will soon own, property in the district, although they currently live elsewhere. While the state requires that school districts allow these children to attend their schools, it also allows the district to charge tuition based on the its reported per pupil expenditure.
Ladue School District’s current non-resident enrollment count is 4 as of December 20, 2011, and breaks down as follows. Again, please note these are fluid numbers and change throughout the school year.
- Ladue Horton Watkins High School: There are 4 non-resident tuition students whose parents own property in the district, but live elsewhere.
Children of Staff Members While the district is not strictly required by law to allow students of non-resident staff members to attend Ladue Schools, it is a typical practice in Missouri to allow it. It is also important to note that under Missouri Revised Statute 168.151, the district is not allowed to charge teachers tuition for sending their children to district schools.
Following is a breakdown of non-resident staff member children in Ladue Schools:
|Children of Staff Members|
Students of staff members are placed in the elementary schools as space and staffing allows in order that additional classrooms and teachers are not required as a result of their presence.
Q: Is the Ladue School District “top heavy” in administrators? Update: 2/9/2012
A: The following chart reflects the administrative staff of districts in the area with a single high school and somewhat similar student enrollment.
|Central Office Administrators||9||10||9||11||11|
|High School Enrollment (All 1 HS)||1221||848||1709||1780||1309|
|High School Administrators||4||4||9||6||8|
|Middle School Enrollment||929||601||605/600||616/495||659/343|
|Middle School Administrators||4||3||3||3||4|
|Elementary Schools (# of schools)||4||3||5||6||5|
|Elementary School Administrators||5||3||6||7||5|
Q: What is the history and projections for growth in Ladue School District enrollment?
A: All of this information can be found on the district’s Web site. Here is a direct link.
Q: How does Ladue School District compare with other school districts in per pupil expenditures and is this comparison important? Update: 2/9/2012
A: Following is a comparison of the eight schools with the highest per pupil expenditure in St. Louis County.
|2010 - 2011 Expenditure Per Pupil|
|District||Per Pupil Expenditure||Difference from Ladue Schools|
It would not be accurate to make a direct correlation between “per pupil expenditure” and “quality of education.” (For instance, the size of a school district has an impact on per pupil expenditure, but does not necessarily impact the quality of education provided.) However, per pupil expenditure does reflect, to a certain degree, the financial investment being made in a student population.
However, the following information in relation to per pupil expenditure may be more important:
- There is a common misconception that the Ladue Schools per pupil expenditure is the highest in the area. The chart above clearly reflects this is not true. In fact, in the last twelve years we've never been higher than third and in the last six years we've been fourth and now we're fifth.
- These are last year’s numbers. Due to our budget cuts, our per pupil enrollment is $700-800 less this year than last year.
- The Ladue School District is sometimes criticized for not being able to keep a lid on expenditures. However, since the year 2000, per pupil expenditure has grown more slowly in the Ladue School District than in all but one other public school in the area.
|School District||Percentage Growth Since 2000|
|Normandy School District||43%|
|Hancock Place School District||43%|
|Special School District St. Louis County||41%|
|University City School District||41%|
|Jennings School District||38%|
|Maplewood Richmond Heights School District||38%|
|Hazelwood School District||32%|
|Ritenour School District||30%|
|Riverview Gardens School District||29%|
|Affton School District 101||29%|
|Kirkwood R VII||28%|
|Ferguson Florissant R II||27%|
|Bayless School District||27%|
|Pattonville R III||26%|
|Webster Groves School District||25%|
|Rockwood R VI||25%|
|Brentwood School District||24%|
|Parkway School District||23%|
|Mehlville R IX||22%|
|Clayton School District||12%|
|Valley Park School District||11%|
|Ladue School District||8%|
|Lindbergh R VIII||5%|
Turner v. School District of Clayton
Q: What are the implications for the Ladue School District of the Missouri Supreme Court ruling on Turner v. School District of Clayton?
A: In Octoboer 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that students residing in unaccredited public school districts are entitled to choose an accredited school to attend in the same or an adjoining county at the cost of the sending school. The case was brought by parents living in the St. Louis Public School attendance area whose children were attending the Clayton School District.
The facet of this ruling that is most worrisome as it currently stands is that it provides neither an exception for schools that do not wish to accept tuition students, nor any exemption when transferring students would result in overcrowded classrooms or school buildings.
Since the initial ruling:
- The 2011 legislative session failed to clarify the ruling.
- The lower court has not clarified the ruling.
- The St. Louis County Circuit Court ruled the Webster Groves School District was required to enroll a St. Louis city student at Webster Groves High School.
- A Joint Interim Committee on School Accreditation has been charged with examining the potential impact of court decisions related to school accreditation on local school districts.
At this time, the district's legal counsel has advised the district to notify interested parties that the district will act when further clarification has been provided. We will keep our parents and patrons apprised of any updates in the status of this case.