COLUMBIA — Columbia School Board members unanimously voted to remove the marching band program for eighth- and ninth-graders and determined how to use the newly purchased Bethel property and soon-to-be vacant Field Elementary at their meeting Monday evening.
The action to remove marching band from Columbia’s junior high schools was tabled in October after several community members spoke out against the change.
A parent forum was hosted prior to Monday night’s meeting in an effort to gain feedback from parents, and a survey was posted online. More than 80 percent of parents who participated in the survey favored the recommendation to postpone marching band until 10th grade.
After gathering additional parental input, the band program evaluation committee decided not to make any revisions to its original recommendation, said Chief Academic Officer Sally Beth Lyon. At the meeting, the brief board discussion conveyed that students need to focus on learning their instruments before learning how to march with them.
In addition to the band curriculum, the board passed revisions to the sixth- through eighth-grade science curriculum.
Board members also voted to follow recommendations on how to use a newly purchased property on Bethel Road and how to fill the soon-to-be-vacant Field Elementary School. Following winter break, students at Field will be moving to the new Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School.
The board voted unanimously to accept the following recommendations for the two properties:
- Relocating the third- through fifth-grade gifted education program, which is currently housed at 916-918 Bernadette Drive, to Field Elementary beginning with the 2010-11 school year.
- Opening additional early childhood classrooms at Field beginning with the 2010-11 school year.
- Relocating the Bearfield program and after-school education services for students to the 4600 Bethel Road facility beginning with the 2010-11 school year.
- Relocating space for adult offices to meet district needs.
Other business Monday included passage of a proposal for early retirement and early resignation notice stipends. In early October, Superintendent Chris Belcher suggested to the School Board Policy Committee that teachers who notify the district of their plans to retire or resign in advance be given a monetary incentive.
The proposal includes rewarding full-time staff members who are planning to retire a $1,000 incentive for notifying the district before Jan. 4. Additionally, part-time workers will be offered a $500 incentive, and faculty under contract who plan to resign will be offered a $500 incentive as well.
“The intent of the incentive is not to encourage people to retire, but to encourage people to let us know ahead of time,” said Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources.