Bond funds reallocated to pay for new Columbia elementary school

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | 8:17 p.m. CST; updated 8:45 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 3, 2009

COLUMBIA ­— If a $120 million bond issue expected to go before Columbia voters next April is approved, it will be spent on a new elementary school as well as a new high school. The plan right now is for the money  to be distributed in the following ways:

  • $75 million for a new high school
  • $18.8 million for a new elementary school
  • $9.6 million for roof replacements and renovations for facilities in the district
  • $14.8 million for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning for the seven or eight schools without air-conditioning
  • $1.2 million to pay for the cost of issuing the bonds
  • $7.5 million for adding auxiliary gyms at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools
  • $7.5 million for technology purposes to be spent over five years on computer replacement throughout the district
  • $3.6 million for capitalized interest

The total amount of money for the projects is $138 million; this figure includes $18 million from a bond issue approved in April 2007 that has yet to be used.

According to Columbia School Board member Ines Segert, the $120 million bond issue is to be spent over five years. By issuing the bond over five years the school district would save $1.9 million in capitalized interest.

Columbia Public Schools' Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee decided at its meeting Nov. 23 to include the elementary school after Superintendent Chris Belcher told School Board members that it had been part of original bond plans in 2006.

Belcher challenged the committee at the Nov. 9 board meeting to find a way to fund the new school.

The school is estimated to cost $18.8 million, the same amount as Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary, set to open in January, said Nick Boren, deputy superintendent for administration.

Board members allocated money for the new elementary school in the proposed $120 million bond issue by fine-tuning the budget for the new high school, Boren said. The high school was originally projected to cost $84 million; that estimate included unknown factors, Boren said. The new high school is now estimated to cost $75 million.

By issuing one bond in April for $120 million instead of two $60 million bonds in different years, as had been planned, the school district is expected to save between $7.5 million and $11 million, Boren said.

Additional savings to pay for the elementary school will come from the following:

  • $4.5 million from the auxiliary gyms for Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools
  • $2.8 million from roofing and maintenance repairs
  • $1.5 million from the technology fund

The Columbia School Board will further discuss the new elementary school at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 at 1818 W. Worley St.

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