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Today's Question: Can the Columbia School Board maintain educational values and large-scale budget cuts?

Friday, July 3, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Columbia Public School Board's budget went into effect Wednesday. The new budget cuts 71 positions within the district to save $3,719,592, which is approximately 86 percent of this year's reductions.

Board President Jan Mees discussed the School Board's decision to cut 71 positions in the 2009-10 budget. She also noted that the board cut 80 positions in the past year and said the district is "getting down to the bare bones."

With these cuts, the district is preparing to give raises to existing employees. These will be the first raises since the freeze in 2007, said Linda Quinley, director of business services for Columbia Public Schools.

In this year's budget, the cuts included the remaining 33 math and literacy coach positions, who provided extra assistance for students in elementary and high school classrooms.

"It will put more back on the classroom teachers," said Elaine Hassemer, lead principal for the district and principal at Paxton Keeley Elementary. "These positions did a lot for them."

Since these coaches had master's degrees and/or tenure, they were given the option to retire, work part time or return to the classroom as a teacher, Quinley said.

Chief Academic Officer Sally Beth Lyon, who deals with specialists such as the coaches, noted their importance in the classroom.

"There's no question that coaching provided a valuable role in our buildings," Lyon said.

Based on the budget cuts, what should be done to preserve and improve the education system?


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