Columbia Public Schools budget could cut personnel, activities

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | 5:00 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public School District's 2011-12 budget could include personnel cuts and the loss of boys and girls swimming at the high school level.

Superintendent Chris Belcher's proposed a set of budget reductions to the School Board's finance committee Monday. The board will meet next Monday to hear them.

The district is looking to save $2.08 million to meet anticipated revenue projections.

Belcher listed 20 personnel cuts that could result in more than $1.2 million in savings. He said much of the savings could be through job consolidation and not filling open positions.

He also talked about eliminating two school resource officers, but not at the high schools.

Eliminating boys and girls swimming at Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools would save about $47,000, according to Belcher's proposal. Belcher said he specifically looked for activities with an unusually high cost per student.

"Nobody wants to cut swimming; everybody loves swimming," he said.  

He pointed out that only 42 students out of 17,200 were involved in swimming programs, at a cost of about $1,200 per student.

"Well that stands out as something we have to look at," Belcher said. "We can't ignore it."

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Corey Parks February 9, 2011 | 8:30 a.m.

That is a shame that they would have to cut programs because they do not know how to budget correctly.

What I am wondering about is the fact that they are having to cut programs and people now because they can not afford it with the current budget. How are they going to be able to include all the same programs and personnel to fill the new high school. The money will not increase just because they opened a new school.

(Report Comment)
Mark Flakne February 9, 2011 | 8:44 a.m.

Getting rid of the Federal Department of Education would likely solve the problem. If the federal government is going to confiscate the income of Missourians, they should give that money directly back to the state and its schools instead of allowing it to be pilfered by useless federal bureaucrats and their useless federal bureaucracy.

"No Child Left Behind" (No Child Gets Ahead) comes to mind. Federal intrusion into education forces the state to spend money and grow state bureaucracy in order to deal with the ridiculous federal mandates.

Money should be spent educating children, not maintaining government lard.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 9, 2011 | 9:03 a.m.

This is a thought... Just a thought...

Perhaps if Columbia had some of the money that they have had to pay attorneys to defend them in these 1983 Civil Rights Actions; they would not have to cut jobs and activities in the School District????

I'd like to see someone like Eapen Thampy sunshine all of the necessary documents to show just how much The City of Columbia has paid attorneys to defend it in these 1983 Civil Rights Actions thus far..........

Just a thought......

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 9, 2011 | 10:32 a.m.

Corey, I'm not sure the school district's budgeting can be blamed entirely when I think part of the shortfall is due to the state sending less money to the district.

Ricky, the school district and Columbia are separate entities. Almost no money flows from one entity to another.

(Report Comment)
Amy Anderson February 9, 2011 | 10:45 a.m.

Perhaps they should look deeper as to why swimming has so few participants before they take it away as a sport. There are lots of Columbia kids on competitive swim teams...just not on the high school teams.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks February 9, 2011 | 11:02 a.m.

Shouldn't each city be responsible for their own schools? Last time I checked on Dec 31st the majority of my property taxes go to the school district.
I see your point though. However I see that it is hard to argue that point when the fact remains that the State provided $x.00 a year for education then voted in gambling and lottery which would have doubled the amount of money available. Where did the money go and why has no one filed a lawsuit or elected officials done anything about it?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 9, 2011 | 12:34 p.m.

School districts (in Missouri at least) are separate from the schools. Probably for the best in my opinion, makes the operation a bit less political.

What I've heard is that money that used to be allocated for education has now been replaced by money from the lottery, ending in no actual increase but I haven't examined the numbers to see how true that is.

(Report Comment)
Michael Schoelz February 13, 2011 | 11:33 p.m.

There is no way that the swim teams cost $47,000. That is a lie. I have been on the swim team and I know that it has to be the least expensive sport other than track. The only cost is for the busses and the coach, everything else is provided by the swimmer. Additionally, if the 47,000 is because of the facility, then that should be looked at separately. There is fishy business going on here. 1200 per student? Really? didn't seem like it when I was swimming. This is awful and I think the swim team is about to get really screwed. Not that anyone really cares because unlike what belcher says "everybody" might love swimming, but nobody cares about it. This is wrong.

(Report Comment)
robert link February 14, 2011 | 6:08 a.m.

A few questions..
What is the cost per student, K-12?

Average kid?
Wheelchair bound kid with no ability to use the toilet?
Team sport participation, football, tennis, wrestling, swimming?
The cost to place a special needs kid into public schools, with all the neccessary attendants and paras uses far more resources than any other student. Notice the word "place" instead of educate for the special needs kids.
Questions that take a hard answer using public money.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks February 14, 2011 | 9:29 a.m.

47k for the swim budget seem low to me. But so did the 42 students cited. I remember the swim team at one point having more then the football team.

But 1200 a student sounds about right. Yes there is not much equipment to purchase but you do have to buy and maintain the timing equipment and host meets and travel and hotels for over night stays and you pay for each meet/tournament you enter. It adds up rather quickly when you paying about a grand every time you rent a charter bus to head to STL and back.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 14, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

"What is the cost per student, K-12?"

See data set No. 16 at Keep in mind that these figures are averages. For example, some schools (e.g., Douglass, West) spend $11,000-$15,000 per student.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks February 15, 2011 | 8:06 a.m.

Thanks for the link Jimmy.

The free or reduced lunch section caught my eye. 46% of all Columbia students! Just think about it. 50% percent of all students qualify. How low do they drop the standards each year?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 15, 2011 | 12:19 p.m.

Corey, clearly there is such a thing as a free lunch: All you have to do is choose to make a child you know you cannot or will not support. This strategy also can qualify you for other benefits, such as a Pell grant, day care and TANF.

Why be responsible when you can be confident that the government will take money from the responsible to give to the irresponsible?

(Report Comment)

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