The Mehlville School District is urging Prop E to raise money to hire more staff

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The Mehlville school district in southern St. Louis County is one of many in our area that is facing shortages of workers in critical positions.

“Gosh. It’s really been quite a challenging thing to deal with since COVID. We’re 80% or less staffed than a lot of our support areas,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines than last year, but we are still being challenged, especially by our bus drivers and supervisors.”

Gaines said the district is short of 15 janitors, 13 bus drivers and four nutritional services technicians. There are even some apprenticeships missing. They had to outsource their grounds maintenance with a $94,000 contract.

Bus drivers also had to adapt.

“Well, for bus drivers, we had to double the routes, which makes some routes longer,” Gaines said. “We had to cancel or change the format of the excursions. Sometimes we just don’t have the drivers to do an activity ride.”

The superintendent says the district is still keeping facilities clean despite the shortage.

“There are (fewer) guards, so we put in a lot of overtime and unfortunately don’t get into the areas as cleanly as we’d like. We’re still hitting the classrooms, but some of the fringes aren’t getting where we want to be,” he said. “We are still sanitary. We might just have a little dust bunny over there in the corner, which we would normally have gotten, but we’re not getting to that now.

The superintendent says the answer is to raise workers’ wages. Mehlville has a tax measure on the ballot that would raise $6 million to do just that.

It was first known as Proposition M. However, school boards and principals quickly agreed to call it that.

“Our board voted to put Proposal M on the ballot at 31 cents to increase employee salaries. It turns out that many counties in the county have a Prop M for the marijuana sales tax, so we didn’t want to get involved with that,” Gaines said.

The voting measure was changed to Proposition E for the upcoming April election. The Mehlville School District is urging Prop E to raise money to hire more staff

Sarah Y. Kim

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