Columbia School Board to discuss resource officers, teacher evaluations

Monday, July 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — School resource officers, teacher evaluations and an outdoor nature exploration area are among the topics the Columbia School Board is to take up at its Tuesday meeting.

The Columbia Police Department informed the Columbia Public School District in August that it could no longer afford to pay school resource officers’ salaries without assistance.

Upon request, the district has agreed to pay half of the officers’ salaries for nine months, at a cost of $188,780 annually. The School Board is to be asked to approve the allocation of these funds from the 2009-10 budget.

School Board President Jan Mees said that though this is the heaviest financial burden the district has undertaken from the school resource officer program since it began, the School Board considers it a priority.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is of vital importance,” Mees said.  

According to the agenda, school administrators are also recommending that evaluations for tenured teachers — teachers who have taught in the same district for five successive years — be moved from a three-year cycle to a five-year cycle. 

Mees said the change would give evaluators more time to spend with new teachers, who are evaluated annually.

“More emphasis will be placed on newer teachers to help them improve,” Mees said.  

The board will also discuss how West Boulevard Elementary School was chosen by the federal government as the site for “an outdoor nature exploration area,” according to the agenda. District officials will apply for a $25,000 matching grant, with Columbia Public Schools providing the land as its match.

The purpose of the grant is to raise awareness about careers in forestry and conservation, the meeting agenda said. Mees said the exploration area is a good fit for the school, as it already places an emphasis on nature and the outdoors.  

Another topic for board discussion involves the Nutrition Services Department applying for $85,600 in stimulus money through the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for new kitchen equipment. This includes new ovens and refrigerators, which Mees said are intended to make the schools more energy efficient.

The equipment will be installed at Benton, Blue Ridge, Derby Ridge, Field, Parkade and West Boulevard elementary schools, as well as Douglass High School. The board will be asked to approve the grant application.  

The board will also consider an addition to the superintendent’s contract that will allow him to be reimbursed for moving expenses up to $3,300. Recently-appointed Superintendent Chris Belcher lived in Kearney before moving to Columbia to take his new position.  

“It’s a reasonable estimate for a move,” Mees said. “It was just inadvertently left out of his contract.

The board meeting begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday at district administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.

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