Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  With a Monday morning breakfast at City Hall, backers of the St. Louis Public Schools began their final push to pass Proposition 1 in Tuesday’s primary.

In calling for a “yes” vote on the 75 cent property tax increase, campaign chairman Richard Gaines said it’s not a question of if the district will survive, but if it will thrive.

“We won’t be as healthy as we would like to be without this, without question,” he says. “But if we do this, it’s the first step in a long time towards saying this school system is ready now to challenge to do those things that you say a good school system should do.”

He says passage could help the St. Louis district become one of the most admired in the nation.

The $27.8 million a year increase would improve safety and salaries, along with early childhood, alternative and character education.

“We are beginning the process,” Gaines says, “of addressing many of the social issues that come to us.” He says addressing those issues will reduce crime and create a higher quality workforce.

Gaines says the district has gotten to the point where it is ready to take the next step.

“We have done everything we can do as a board, and a body, and a superintendent to be open, transparent, and for this community to see what’s happening,” he says. “And we believe they see what’s happening.”

He still hears negative comments about the district, but Gains says, “Every time they talked about things they truly had a problem with, it was 10 years ago.”

Proposition 1 will be on the ballot with two Metropolitan Sewer District questions – a bond issue for the city and the earnings tax. Gaines says that is a concern.

“We’re afraid of that more than anything else,” he says. “That they (voters) will mark the wrong ballot. Wanting to vote for the schools and maybe not voting for the schools because of other concerns.”

The tax increase would be the first in the district in 25 years.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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