Columbia Board of Education passes 2010-11 budget

Monday, June 14, 2010 | 9:53 p.m. CDT; updated 10:43 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 14, 2010

COLUMBIA — The 2010-11 school budget was adopted with a 5-1 vote by Columbia Board of Education members at a meeting Monday night.

“I think we’re ready to give you this budget,” Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said. “We’re proud of it. We wish it had more money in it, but it is what it is.”

The new budget will cut $5.6 million and 79 Columbia Public Schools positions, as was reported in a previous Missourian article.

The 79 cuts would include approximately 20 elementary schools teachers,five high school teachers, six to seven middle school teachers, seven special education staff members and three or four guidance counselors. Some principals and assistant principals might also be cut.

The district is expected to have more than $31 million in reserves when the 2010-11 budget goes into effect in July. The budget projects a total revenue of about $159 million and total expenditures of $156 million for the year, Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley said in the meeting.

The board anticipates significant cuts in funding from the governor’s office before the state budget is signed by June 30, Belcher said.

“We’re predicting that 10 percent reduction in state revenue may become true,” Belcher said. “And we think we are going to continue to budget very conservatively.”

Columbia Board of Education Vice President Tom Rose voted against adopting the budget as presented after he proposed an amendment to add $50,000 back into the Parents as Teachers program.

“In making this proposal, I want to take a look at what’s different now from what it was when we made our initial recommendation,” Rose said. “I feel that this would certainly show a commitment to Columbia Public Schools to early childhood.”

Rose described the district’s action of cutting $50,000 from the program and not changing the salary schedules as two steps that decrease services to the families and the children.

"The program can be a different program now. Legislation has allowed districts and the programs to select and try to service those more in need," Rose said. "I think that’s a significant change that may occur with this program and why I think it may be worthwhile looking at adding this back to the budget."

After voting on adopting the budget as presented, the board voted on Rose’s proposed amendment.

“I ask my cohorts here to go ahead and vote with your minds and not with your hearts,” Rose said with a laugh. “I understand how you might all vote.”

With a 5-1 vote, the proposed amendment was not accepted.

“I think the public should be very proud that we have taken the steps necessary — as painful as they were — to put us in good financial shape,” Belcher said.

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