Tax levy increase, bond proposal on agenda for Monday's School Board meeting

Saturday, January 7, 2012 | 2:49 p.m. CST; updated 12:43 p.m. CST, Monday, January 9, 2012

* Homeowners would see an increase in property taxes to $4.48 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation. In an earlier version, a misplaced article implied the levy would increase by that amount.

 COLUMBIA — Voters can likely expect to see both a 40-cent tax levy increase and a $50 million bond proposal on the April ballot for the Columbia School District.

Both of those issues along with proposed school boundaries will be discussed at the School Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Columbia Public School District Administration Building, 1818 W. Worley St.

Tax levy

The 40-cent levy increase would provide an additional $8 million in revenue to Columbia schools. Columbia homeowners would see an increase in property taxes *to $4.48 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation, according to sample ballot language from the district.

The levy will allow schools to maintain operations and staff after state and federal funding cuts.

A 3.2 cent levy increase was approved in August and a 60-cent increase was expected for early this year.

Bond proposal

The board will also be voting to place a $50 million bond proposal on the April 2012 ballot. If passed, the bond would help the board buy land for and build new buildings, specifically an elementary school and remodeling buildings already in use.

The bond would raise the debt service levy of the school district by 12 cents, or 92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation, up from 80 cents.

The new elementary school, which would hold 650 students, would cost $20 million, including the purchase of land. That money would come from the bond proposal.


Members of the secondary enrollment planning committee, including its chair, Don Ludwig, will report their chosen school enrollment boundaries to the board on Monday. The committee spent most of 2011 working on drawing boundaries to include Battle High School, scheduled to opened in August 2013, and to convert middle and junior high schools to intermediate schools serving grades six through eight.

The committee chose scenario B for intermediate and high school boundaries, but it will be up to the board to make the final vote on adopting these boundaries for 2013. Ludwig said this vote is likely to come in early February, after the board has time to review the committee’s work.

Collective bargaining

The board will also vote Monday on collective bargaining. For months, it has wrestled with allowing teachers to bargain collectively about employment conditions. Two policies, HH and HA, will be put to vote.

HH defines how the board would recognize a union to bargain for Columbia’s teachers. If the policy is approved, the board would require teachers to submit a petition with signatures from at least 30 percent of teachers in the district indicating that teachers want to have a bargaining union formed for them.

HA is a more general policy that applies legal definitions for employee representatives and lays ground rules for negotiations between these representatives and the district.

Renaming administration building

The Naming Committee will ask the board to consider changing the name of the new Columbia Public Schools Administration Building to the Neil C. Aslin Administration Building. 

After naming the new high school for Muriel Battle, the Naming Committee decided that both Battle and Aslin deserved recognition.

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Mike Martin January 7, 2012 | 4:37 p.m.

I've probably read about 20 stories since the bond and levy proposals showed up both here and in the Trib. If the rafts of negative comments are any guide, the public is not interested in either proposal.

Forget for a moment that the economy sucks and that people are about to be asked for a raft-load of new taxes from all around -- like for the airport expansion Mayor McD is now pushing.

People are more unhappy because the ever-lingering CPS "stick and carrot" show has finally been outed for what it is: with each new proposal, promise to "fix" some long-standing grievance, like crummy air conditioning, then after the public votes in favor of the bond or levy, spend the millions on administrative offices ($7.8 million -- Ka -- CHING); overpriced land (millions and millions and counting -- Ka-CHING!); and various handouts to powerful friends like doing all the infrastructure around the new schools on land you bought from the same developers ($50 million, if some estimates are to be believed -- double Ka-CHING! for Pugh, Atkins, Wolverton, et. al.)

Here's a typical Trib comment about the A/C scam:

"It was set to be installed at various times over the last 15 years whenever they pushed for a tax increase, as well as eliminating the trailer class rooms.

"They blew through the money and spent it on other things and new pie in the sky programs that administrators want but many voters would not support.

"Why install it when voters seem to have the memory of a 90 year old Alzheimer's patient and the same argument about installing A/C and eliminating the trailers works with voters every time?"

The comments under these recent Trib stories are pretty typical as well:

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 9, 2012 | 9:46 a.m.

I certainly hope that $4.48 per hundred is an error. If not, a home assessed at $50,000 would see an increase of property taxes of $2240. Mike is right on, on this. CSD uses the extra pro-school sentiment of a multi-college town to easily get passed whatever they want, with no questions asked. However, during these times when many are struggling to make ends meet, a huge tax increase will only serve to exacerbate the problem.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 9, 2012 | 11:47 a.m.

I'm all for education.
I hope the citizenry of Columbia have been properly educated to understand that if CPS can not be good stewards of the money they currently receive then it's foolish to give them even more.
At the same time, I hope the public realizes that any increases in property taxes on all those rental dwellings will most likely result in landlords increasing rent.

(Report Comment)

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