Budget predictions dire for Columbia Public Schools

Monday, December 14, 2009 | 11:29 p.m. CST; updated 9:44 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 15, 2009

COLUMBIA – At a Columbia School Board meeting Monday evening state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, told board members that all school districts in Missouri would be facing inevitable cuts for the next fiscal year.

After fiscal year 2009, the state’s overall budget was down $500 million. In 2010, the state’s budget will be down an additional $500 million, Schaefer said, resulting in a decrease of $1 billion in state revenue in just two years.

The last time the state faced a similar financial situation was in 2002 and 2003 when the state’s budget fell by $179 million and $285 million respectively.

“I hope everyone has an appreciation for how serious this situation is,” Schaefer said.

Linda Quinley, chief financial officer for Columbia Public Schools, said potential budget projections for the district include:

  • flat state funding;
  • a 7.5 percent decrease in state funding; and
  • a 15 percent decrease in state funding.

"We are expecting between a 7 and 15 percent decrease in state funding," Quinley said.

Nothing is certain, but the district must be prepared for a significant decrease in state funding, she said.

Board members also heard a report on student achievement in conjunction with district goals that were put into place five years ago. Subcommittees are currently fine-tuning objectives for a new five-year plan so that it can be brought before the board at January’s meeting.

A public forum, held Dec. 3, received input from the community about district objectives.

Board member Ines Segert expressed concern regarding decreasing student state assessment scores since 2006.

Board member James Whitt said that action must be taken to improve the scores, otherwise the district could find itself in the same situation next year.

Belcher agreed. “The time to talk is over, it’s time to take action.”

The district's auditor, James McGinnis, also presented the auditor’s report for the district and told board members the financial report was as transparent as it could possibly be. He also congratulated the district for being one of very few districts in the state awarded the Certificate of Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting and the Certificate of Excellence. The certificates are issued by two separate organizations: The Government Financial Officers Association and the Association of School Business Officials.

Also at the meeting, board members voted unanimously to approve a resolution that would allow the Columbia School District to participate in the application process for the Race to the Top Fund. Race to the Top is a federal program that awards grants to states based on relationships with local education agencies that show innovations in one of four key areas:

  • standards and assessments;


  • data to support instruction;
  • teacher and leader quality; and
  • turning schools around.

By participating in the program, Columbia Public Schools could be eligible for a grant if Missouri is one of the states chosen to receive funding.

At the school board's next meeting, Jan. 11, 2010, board members will vote on the approval of a $120 million bond issue that might appear on the April 2010 ballot.


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Mike Martin December 15, 2009 | 8:32 a.m.

CPS has plenty of tax resources it simply refuses to tap. More on this here:

----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Martin
To: Chris Belcher
Cc: James Whitt ; Michelle Pruitt ; Karla Despain ; Ines Segert ; Jan Mees ; Tom Rose ; Christine King ; Chris Belcher; 'Braden, Jonathon' ; 'Brixey, Elizabeth K.'
Sent: 2009-11-18 04:06
Subject: Are Developer Property Tax Breaks Breaking Boone County?

Dr. Belcher and Members of the School Board:

I noticed more talk about a property tax levy increase in today's Trib.

Go out to Mill Creek Elementary and look at that HUGE parcel -- all 133 acres, stubbed in with utility lines of every stripe -- just across the street.

It belongs to Stan Kroenke, who resides in a castle across from it when he's in town maybe twice a year. He paid $2 million for it in 1998.

Today, the county assessor says it's worth roughly $40,000 -- and Stan pays about $243.00 in taxes on it every year.

Last year's levy proposal would have cost Stan all of about $1.00. In fact, he gave the county assessor more in campaign donations than he's paid in property taxes on that -- and many other parcels -- over the last decade.

With all due respect, until you deal meaningfully and adequately with this huge inequity, no levy will ever bring in enough money.

Best, Mike Martin

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Rose
To: Mike Martin


As the Board of Education does not make the laws concerning property zoning and does not set assessment rates, what are you proposing would be the school boards ability to act in this situation.

Tom Rose

----- Original Message -----
From: Mike Martin
To: Tom Rose


The Board of Education doesn't have to make laws to make sure those laws are properly enforced. The Platte County School Board recently sued assessor Lisa Pope over a similar issue, when she was under-assessing the Iatan Power Plant.

A better strategy, in my opinion, would be to take this to the public.

Ask the public, is it FAIR that we raise your taxes when Stan Kroenke and dozens of other multi-millionaires here are paying virtually nothing?

Is it FAIR that when the City rezones a large plot of land to commercial or residential, the County continues to call it farmland?

Is it FAIR that one of the richest developers in the state, Jeff Smith, owns a duplex the county assessor claims is worth just $739.00?

Is it FAIR that the Lindners and Forum Development Group are publicly advertising a commercially-zoned property in the middle of a strip mall for sale at $1.4 million while the assessor says it's only worth $183,000?

Is any of that FAIR?

(Rose responded that he'd be willing to look into this, but I was later informed that Supt. Belcher -- like Ritter before him -- discouraged the idea).

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer December 15, 2009 | 9:52 a.m.

Mike Martin--you're screaming at the wrong person again. Don't tell CPS it's their fault that the assessment isn't done right. That's like telling a girl the way she dressed caused the assault. It's easy for old farts like you to make easy cause/effect statements instead of attacking the real problems. I guess it's good business for your blog to attack the school district.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 15, 2009 | 11:52 a.m.


Who's screaming at whom here?

My email to CPS was prompted by talk of a new property tax levy.

As the primary beneficiary of property tax dollars, the school district has a moral and fiduciary imperative to right this inequity, particularly BEFORE they come to the public for more tax dollars.

I realize you may be too young to understand these concepts, but CPS and its board are also the only body in town with significant enough moral authority to challenge this kind of long-term petty corruption.

Finally, your crass analogy -- of a girl encouraging an assault -- is inappropriate, and your name calling drags you down. And as my blog takes in no revenue, your "good business" comment is also pretty silly.

If you're so interested in attacking real problems, stop posting on blogs and get into action.

I'm sure the assessor -- and Mr. Kroenke, and every other under-taxed developer in town -- would be happy to speak with you, since you want to go straight to the heart of the problem.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez December 15, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

I am sorry to be off topic here but this claim bothered me.

[Columbia Heartbeat And as my blog takes in no revenue]

Mr Martin isn't there a PayPal Button on your blog in the upper left hand corner? Isn't that a way of you making money from your blog by donations to keep your blog running? Isn't Blogger a free blog host by the Google Corporation? Mr Martin are you paying the taxes on those donations you do receive?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 15, 2009 | 2:43 p.m.


You are off topic, and that's too bad.
You clearly couldn't care less about the topic at hand.

That said, I haven't received any donations and I don't expect to.

In case you haven't noticed -- and you act like a smart guy who should notice these things -- nobody wants to pay for online news.

It's why newspapers around the country are dying like flies, and online news has yet to generate real profits for anyone who tries it.

(Report Comment)

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