Columbia School Board considers bond election for new high school

Thursday, February 19, 2009 | 10:15 a.m. CST; updated 6:40 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 19, 2009

An earlier version of the story misstated the recommendation.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board is considering a plan that would involve a single $120 million bond election in April 2010 to pay for a new high school.

At a board work session Thursday morning, interim Superintendent Jim Ritter proposed the board reconsider the current strategy to construct the high school and make other improvements to district facilities in three phases.

Right now, the plan is to pay for those needs through three $60 million bonds, the first of which was approved by voters in April 2007; the other two are intended for 2011 and 2013. At the meeting, Ritter and Jack Dillingham, a public finance investment banker with Piper Jaffray, recommended that the $20 million reserved for construction of the high school from the 2007 bond not be issued until the proposed $120 million bond is approved.*

If the larger bond were to be approved in 2010, construction would begin immediately. “By beginning later, we can finish earlier,” Ritter said.

Ritter said approving the rest of the funds at one time could result in a net savings of $7.5 million.

The board has until January  to decide whether to request the voters' approval of a $120 million bond in April of that year or continue with the current plan.


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