School district approves funding for online courses, career center addition

Monday, September 14, 2009 | 11:35 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board voted unanimously in favor of one of three amendments to the 2009-10 district budget that were considered Monday.

A construction bid for an addition to the Columbia Area Career Center addition was also approved.

The three budget amendments up for discussion included the use of additional revenue generated from a 4.25-cent approved tax rate increase to boost the district’s teacher salaries as well as how to allocate federal stimulus dollars from Title II-D and Title I funding.

As previously reported by the Missourian, the Columbia School Board’s approval of the tax increase will allow for a $700,000 increase to the district's teachers fund. At the Missourian's deadline Monday, board members were still discussing how to allocate that money. One proposal suggested using $610,000 to augment teachers' salaries and $90,000 for teacher educational credit benefits.

The budget amendment passed Monday concerned Title II-D grant funding in the amount of $99,000.

According to Sally Beth Lyon, chief academic officer for the district, the primary purpose of a Title II-D Enhancing Education Through Technology program is to improve student academic achievement through the incorporation of technology in school curriculum, teacher instruction, professional development and assessment.

Lyon said the Columbia School Board will do that by offering online courses to high school students. The Title II-D funding will cover the cost of the online classes, course forms and equipment such as computers and wireless connection, she added.

The third budget amendment discussed Monday dealt with roughly $788,000 in Title I funding that will be specifically used for improving the academic and economically disadvantaged. A decision on this subject was not reached before the Missourian's print deadline.

Title I funding is intended to aid school districts and schools that have a high percentage of students from low-income families.

“The big ideas for the Title I funding would include the expansion of early childhood classrooms ... that would allow 90 more children into the program,” Lyon said. “The second big idea for Title I funding would allow for more professional development, literacy materials and supplies for Columbia’s six Title I elementary schools."

According to Lyon, Columbia Title I elementary schools include West Boulevard, Eugene Field, Benton, Parkade, Derby Ridge and Blue Ridge.

At Monday's meeting, the school board unanimously voted to accept a $2.15 million construction bid from Ashland-based River City Construction for an addition to the Columbia Area Career Center.

According to board documents, the state has provided the school district with $5.3 million for the project as part of a 50-50 match in funding.

According to information for board members, funds spent on the initial Career Center addition and equipment upgrades made before the 2008-09 school year will be reimbursed through the district’s match. Phase I of the expansion would include classrooms for subjects such as culinary arts, marketing and health. The addition would also consist of a computer lab, storage units, a records room and offices.

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