Columbia School Board approves budget for new building

Monday, September 13, 2010 | 10:39 p.m. CDT; updated 9:50 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COLUMBIA — Two Columbia School District administrative offices will move out of leased space and into a building owned by the district.

The Columbia School Board voted unanimously on two motions to construct a new building at Monday night's board meeting. They agreed on a budget of $7.8 million to be paid over 26 years at an amount equal to current lease costs. The board also approved and authorized borrowing up to $400,000 for up-front design costs.

Other news from the school board

HVAC Project Update

The board chose an architect for the HVAC projects, which are intended to improve the air conditioning systems in district schools. Simon Oswald Associates will partner with DLR Group on this project.

Early Retirement

The board voted unanimously in favor of an early retirement notice stipend for teachers. Any full-time salaried teachers announcing retirement by Dec. 1, 2010, will be eligible for a stipend of $1,000. Retiring non-contract teachers or resigning teachers will receive $500.

Bond Sales

The board approved the sale of about $6.5 million in school construction bonds, as well as the sale of about $18.5 million in refund bonds. There were eight bidders for the refund bonds. The board chose Robert Baird and Company with an unanimous vote.

Pouring Control

Coca-Cola will become the district’s primary beverage provider, and prices will be equalized in the soda machines throughout the schools. Cans will cost 75 cents, and bottles will cost $1.25.

Kathy Steinhoff, the Jefferson Junior High School math teacher who was recognized for winning the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, raised concern on behalf of her colleagues.

“When the soda machine changes by a nickel, there is a fury across the schools,” Steinhoff said.

The motion passed with no opposition, but board member Ines Segert abstained from voting.

The new administration building will allow the board to eliminate current office leases, which are costing the district $493,827 yearly. 

Considering factors like sharing expenses for clerical and maintenance costs and reducing the travel time — and thus the reimbursement — for administrators to travel between offices, the district would save a minimum of $1.5 million by owning its own building. The estimated maximum savings are $7.5 million over the 26-year repayment period.

Board member Michelle Pruitt stressed the importance of acting quickly in order to finish construction in time to get out of the leases in June 2012. The building will share the lot with the current administration building at 1818 W. Worley St.

“I really think this is forward-looking, and it’s a great move for the district in the long run,” Pruitt said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The new building will house the offices for Business Services and Instructional and Informational Technology Services for the Columbia Public School District. The two offices are currently located at 916 Bernadette Drive and 555 Vandiver Drive, respectively.

The board also approved the architect for the project, Simon Oswald Associates.

Missourian reporter Kellie Kotraba contributed to this report.

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