Prop for Progress

Bond issue seeks $244 million for district-wide improvements.


The softball field would be one of many improvements to FHC with the ratification of Prop S.

Proposition S is a $244 million bond that was voted unanimously to be placed on the ballot on April 7, 2020. This Proposition would allow the district to borrow money now and in the future to address pressing facility needs at not only FHC, but all other Francis Howell schools. Prop S would pay for the construction of new safety entrance halls at all schools in the Francis Howell School District. This new innovation would route visitors through a separate office for check-in and visitor screening, improving the overall safety of the students and staff, without increasing the current tax rate, meaning no extra money from taxpayers is necessary. 

“We know that we’re protecting an investment that our community has already made in our schools,” Matt Diechmann, Chief Communications & Community Relations Officer for FHSD said. “There’s also a direct correlation between the quality of your school district and your property values. So, good school districts mean strong property values.”

At FHC, Prop S would pay for a new HVAC system, a new parking lot, interior renovations including a major renovation of our auditorium, and a new softball field. Along with these benefits, the bond would not increase the current tax rate.

“It will better our buildings so teachers and students have better teaching and learning opportunities,” Ashley Early, former student at FHC, said. 

The passage of Prop S would require approval by four sevenths of voters, which is a little above 57 percent in the April election. The approval of this proposition is crucial for the construction, repair, and renovation costs outlined in the Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. 

The Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan (CFMP) was commissioned by the FHSD Board of Education as an approach to assessing the critical needs of the different buildings in the district. The CFMP identified $300 million worth of imperative improvements necessary to be made over the next 20+ years. 

“We have to rely on the community to provide us funds to take care of our facilities,” Dr. Sonny Arnel said. “So, schools need to be able to go to the community, every so often, and say ‘we need to raise some funds to be able to take care of our facility needs.’”

At FHC, the safety and security of students and staff are priority. Prop S would ensure greater protection for the students and staff by incorporating a new entrance hall. Along with improving safety, it would also enhance the softball field, renovate the auditorium, and consolidate a new HVAC system. 

“If [Prop S] doesn’t pass,” Diechmann said. “Then the district will have to put off many of these projects.”

Diechmann went on to further explain the outcomes if the proposition were to be rejected by voters. 

“We won’t be able to add on classrooms or build a new Francis Howell North,” Diechmann said. “Some of our existing budget would have to then be used for some of the most critical maintenance repairs which would then divert those resources from other important classroom needs.” 

Early discussed the disadvantages that would be attached with the proposition being ratified. 

“Unfortunately, some schools might have to be closed for repair for an extended amount of time to make it safer for students,” Early said. “Some schools are so overcrowded that border changes might have to happen in order to even out classes between schools.”

Prop S would cover the costs for many innovations throughout the Francis Howell School District without raising the current tax rate, a notable benefit for members of the community. Alongside the remodelling of the buildings, the approval of the proposition would prove that the community is engaged with the schools and their quality, strengthening the sensible bond between the school district and community.