Columbia School District budget still undergoing changes for 2011-12

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | 7:22 p.m. CDT; updated 8:49 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 4, 2011

COLUMBIA —  Proposed reductions and additions introduced at Columbia Public Schools' finance committee meeting Wednesday afternoon are only one part of the district's budget, which must be approved by the end of June.

Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley presented a list of budget reductions to the committee, which include eliminating 18 full-time positions. In January, the projected eliminations were approximately 20 positions.

"We're a little short on (full-time employees), which I think is a good thing," Quinley said. "That means fewer people are being displaced."

If the positions were cut, the district could save approximately $1.8 million.

Quinley and the committee also discussed increases to next year's budget. Many of the increases include stipends for teachers, increased utility and transportation costs and added positions throughout the district.

Another monetary increase to the budget would account for the possibility of growth in student enrollment, which would require more staff and classroom supplies.

The total cost of all the additions would be about $2 million.

Superintendent Chris Belcher addressed the seriousness of the district's inability to fund current improvements and the ever-present need to reduce class sizes, improve technology and maintain facilities.

Belcher said even an 80-cent tax levy, for example, couldn't completely cover the $22.2 million needed for the improvements. He said the district needs to look ahead and figure out how to increase district revenues.

"I think we've nickeled and dimed as much as we can, and now we're going to have to do something big," board member Jan Mees said.

The school board will discuss the budget reductions and additions and hear Belcher's presentation at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the district's administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.

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