Teachers, staff asked to help trim budget

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | 6:16 p.m. CST; updated 10:50 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Teachers and staff in Columbia Public Schools were asked what they thought could be cut from the budget in an online survey that ended Tuesday.

The survey asked staff which programs, equipment, materials and supplies they thought they could do without and still “provide the same level of service and student achievement,” said district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark.

The district is looking at ways to cut $5 million from its budget. In addition, it is asking voters to approve a $10.3 million property tax levy increase.

As of noon Tuesday, there were 405 responses to the survey, which began about two weeks ago.

The questions were asked in a “yes/no” format with space for elaboration. School staff were notified by e-mail about the survey, which was optional. Once the results have been analyzed, they will be given to each of the district’s principals as well as to the Columbia School Board and Superintendent Phyllis Chase.

Depending on the results, the survey might influence the board’s decisions, said Board President Karla DeSpain. “They’ll certainly be taken seriously,” DeSpain said. “They carry weight. The staff has a good view of what needs to happen.”

Board Vice President Darin Preis said the board probably won’t go through the survey results line by line. “But if there are a lot of people saying the same things,” he said, “that will certainly make our job easier.”

Whether the responses will be released to the public was uncertain Tuesday.

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