COLUMBIA — SMART Boards, math and literacy coaches, and administrative positions are all things Columbia Public School District employees said they could do without.
Over 900 of the district’s more than 2,000 employees gave their input in an online survey about what could be eliminated from the budget. The results were released to the public Tuesday.
Employees were given about three weeks to respond to the survey, which included yes or no questions and space for comments. The survey period ended Feb. 20. School staff were notified about the optional survey by e-mail. The results will be given to each of the district’s principals. the Columbia School Board and Superintendent Phyllis Chase. The school district will have to cut as much as $5 million from the budget as it faces a $10.3 million shortfall.
The most common suggestion survey respondents made was to cut math and literacy coach positions. They also referred to the administration as being “top heavy.”
“I think everyone has a valuable position in the district, but it does seems a little ‘top heavy,’” a Fairview Elementary employee wrote. “I don’t know enough about all the administrative positions to say specifics, but it is something to look at more closely.”
The salaries of administrators were brought into question by respondents.
“I think the (superintendant) should not receive such huge salary increases if there is not enough money to support such raises,” wrote a district employee who did not specify his or her location.
Almost 70 percent of responses said there was not any equipment they could do without. A majority of employees said they did not see a need for SMART Boards, touch-sensitive electronic white boards, in every classroom.
An employee at Blue Ridge and Mill Creek elementary schools wrote: “Upgrading every classroom with SMART Boards can wait. SMART Boards are nice, but teaching has been done many years without them.”
When asked whether there were supplies or materials they could do without, many replied saying they buy most of their supplies out of pocket.
“I currently spend at least $750 per school year on materials not provided by the school district,” said a Hickman High School employee.
Employees also mentioned cutting work days and collaboration days in order to save funds.
“We could cut two to three days a year from the contract and still have plenty of time to meet as a faculty, as teams and to do assessment scoring,” said a Fairview Elementary employee.
In addition to the $5 million cuts planned by the district, voters are also being asked to approve a $10.3 million property tax levy on April 8.