School board to vote on proposed boundary lines for new school

Sunday, May 11, 2008 | 6:03 p.m. CDT; updated 1:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The Elementary Enrollment Planning Committee will present its proposed boundaries for new elementary school attendance areas to the school board Monday night.

If approved, the boundaries will affect the attendance areas of Derby Ridge, Blue Ridge, Lee, Field, Shepard Boulevard, Cedar Ridge, Benton and Parkade elementary schools when the new elementary school in northeast Columbia opens for the 2009-10 school year.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the district administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.

Committee chair Donald Ludwig said he is confident the committee is presenting a top-notch proposal.

“We’ve done a quality job,” he said. “I’m sure it will go well. The board will probably have a lot of questions, but we’re prepared to answer.”

Michelle Gadbois, president of the school board, said that while there is always a little angst when attendance areas are changed, she trusts that the committee has come up with a good redistricting proposal.

“I really trust them to come forth with something good, after having really communicated with the schools,” she said.

The proposal is the culmination of many months of research by the committee. Research included running possible enrollment scenarios, looking at individual neighborhoods and holding two sets of forums at affected schools.

Ludwig said the forums were important because the community, “is a partner in what we do.”

Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent for elementary education, described the process that went into the development of the boundary lines.

“The committee went to each of the buildings affected before lines were drawn,” Jensen said. “They took that input and put it into the boundaries. They went back again and took what they heard from parents, teachers and administration and tweaked their plan to really meet the needs of the school community that is going to be affected.”

The forums allowed the committee to talk to community members and find out about problems they could not see from simply looking at census data.

“They could give us information about what was actually happening in their neighborhoods,” Jensen said.

Ludwig said there were two common concerns raised by community members. The first was whether the proposed boundaries left enough room for growth. The second was that there would not be enough room for children to finish their education at their current schools, if they chose to do so. Ludwig said the committee went back and investigated these concerns. He said it believes both concerns are taken care of by the proposal.

“Engaging what the community had to say and getting all this feedback provided us the information to give a quality recommendation to the board,” Ludwig said.

The board will also resume its discussion of the 2008-09 budget at Monday’s meeting.

Gadbois said the board left its last discussion still needing to cut $500,000 to $1 million from next year’s budget.

Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, said the board will not vote on any specific reductions Monday night.

She also said that there is not yet a completed draft proposal of the 2008-09 budget. The board’s discussion Monday will be taken into account while the district finishes the drafted budget. The draft will then be presented to the board for approval at its May 22 work session.

Gadbois said the board will offer time for public comment at the beginning of the budget discussion. Last time, public comment was given throughout the discussion.

Gadbois also said she does not believe Superintendent Phyllis Chase will bring up her possible salary reduction during Monday’s meeting, saying it will probably be addressed at the school board meeting in June.

The board will vote on a few other items, including:

— Where to place its money. The district asked banks to bid a rate of interest on the district’s seven accounts for the next two years, with an option for a third-year renewal. District administration suggests the board approve First National Bank, the lowest bidder that met specifications.

— Authorization for the district to apply to participate in the Missouri School District Advance Funding Program. The program allows school districts to borrow money based on anticipated taxes. The district hopes to enter the program because of the possibility that district reserve balances might not cover all fall expenditures.

— 2007-08 budget amendments. The board will see what adjustments have been made to the current budget and vote on whether to approve those items.

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