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School Board to discuss bond issue, management of summer school

Sunday, January 10, 2010 | 7:25 p.m. CST; updated 11:32 a.m. CST, Monday, January 11, 2010

* The survey referenced by Karla DeSpain was taken three to four years ago. A previous version of this story misstated when the survey was conducted.

COLUMBIA — The fate of a $120 million bond issue for the Columbia Public School District could be up to voters, if the Columbia School Board approves the proposal at its meeting Monday evening. Superintendent Chris Belcher and the administration have recommended the board approve the motion for the $120 million bond to appear on the April 6 ballot.

"Last time we took a bond issue before the public, there was a huge positive response," said Nick Boren, deputy superintendent for administration.

Proceeds from the bonds would be used for five years for various projects, including construction of the new high school and elementary school.

Board member Karla DeSpain said that results from a large survey *conducted three to four years ago indicated community members wanted students to have fewer transitions between schools.

Community members seemed interested in bringing freshman into the high schools, rather than having students move from middle school to junior high school and then to high school.

"We can’t do that without a new high school," DeSpain said, noting that existing high schools face overcrowding.

The bond issue's spending plan also includes improving existing schools in the district.

Some of the improvements include new gymnasiums for both Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools, as well as adding air conditioning to the handful of schools without it, according to a previous Missourian report.

The board is also expected to vote on whether to manage the district’s 2010–11 summer school program in-house or to hire an outside contractor to provide operational services.

The administration will recommend the board contract with RnB Learning LLC on Monday.

This contractor would manage curriculum, recruit and enroll students, order materials and coordinate transportation.    

The district’s community relations coordinator, Michelle Baumstark, said that the timeline between the end of the school year and the start of the summer program is too short for the district’s staff to try to manage it.

"This would allow us to do a one-time contract and get the manpower that we need," Baumstark said.

Operating the summer school program through this contractor would not force the district to make a commitment to the contracted employees and would allow the district to evaluate the success of the outsourcing.

"By choosing to contract in lieu of hiring Columbia Public Schools employees, there will no be additional expenditure," Baumstark said.

The board meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the district’s Administration Building, 1818 Worley St.


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