Columbia School Board elects new president and vice president

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:51 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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As two school board members, Michelle Gadbois and Steve Calloway, leave, two new members, Michelle Pruitt and Christine King, are sworn in Monday at the District’s Administration Building. Gadbois discusses her feelings about leaving the district as Pruitt and King discuss their excitement for joining the board.

COLUMBIA — Incoming Superintendent Chris Belcher, who will begin his work in Columbia this summer, looked on as the new Columbia School Board took shape Monday. 

Michelle Pruitt and Christine King, elected April 7, were sworn in after a reception for departing President Michelle Gadbois and Vice President Steve Calloway.


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The new board was left with the task of filling the vacated president and vice president positions. Tom Rose nominated Jan Mees for president, and Ines Segert nominated Tom Rose for vice president. All board members present voted in favor of the nominations; Rosie Tippin was absent.

"This is not a one-person show or even a two-person show," Mees said after her appointment.

Shortly after her final moments on the board, Gadbois reappeared during the public comment portion of the meeting. She explained that the administration building on 1818 W. Worley St. has gone by many names over the years and deserves a proper title.

"In the past several decades, there was one person who gave and gave and gave," Gadbois said tearfully as she explained her recommendation for the title.

She asked the board to consider naming the building the James R. Ritter Administration Building after interim Superintendent Jim Ritter. After 33 years of service and two retirements, Ritter returned in 2008 when the district needed a superintendent fast, Gadbois said.

The board is also considering the recommendation of the school district's finance committee to use a salary schedule, a system that bases pay for district faculty on education and years worked. The committee recommended that the board use the proposed salary schedule for support staff, provide a 1 percent increase as a one-time only stipend for professional staff and use the educational advancement portion of the teacher salary schedule.

The committee's recommendation hinges on the assumption that the state would fully fund the foundation formula and that assessed valuation will increase 1.5 percent.

The Columbia Missouri National Education Association agreed that the board ought to run the salary schedule, saying it's a top priority and frozen salaries are unacceptable.

Other items:

  • Board members will send representatives to attend high school graduations. They plan to send Mees and Rose to Rock Bridge, Pruitt and DeSpain to Hickman and King to Douglass.
  • During public comment, a representative of Hillyard, a local business and primary vendor of custodial supplies at Columbia's public schools, urged the school board to maintain its relationship with Hillyard and support local business.

Missourian reporter Amanda Branco contributed to this article.

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Rick Johnson April 14, 2009 | 4:56 p.m.

I think renaming the Administration Building after James Ritter is an excellent idea and a way to recognize him for his service to Columbia Public Schools.

I would like to know more about the issues that the Hillyard representative raised. It would be interesting to see what was in the packet he handed the board. He mentioned cost analysis of recent bids, his company being able to save the district money and that hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent outside the district.

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