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School board puts tax levy increase, bond proposal on April ballot

Monday, January 9, 2012 | 11:02 p.m. CST; updated 12:03 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 10, 2012

COLUMBIA — It will be left to voters to decide on a 40-cent tax levy increase and a $50 million bond proposal this April.

At Monday's Columbia Board of Education meeting, board members passed the tax increase and the bond proposal by a unanimous vote.

Bond plan and ballot language

 Tax levy ballot language:

"Shall The School District of Columbia, Boone County, Missouri, be authorized to increase the operating tax levy by forty cents ($0.40) per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for the purpose of maintaining current programs and staffing, due to decreased state and federal funding? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted operating levy of the school district is estimated to be $4.4793 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation."

Bond issue ballot language:

"Shall The School District of Columbia, Boone County, Missouri, issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000) for the purpose of acquiring and developing sites for school buildings and acquiring, constructing, improving, extending, repairing, remodeling, renovating, furnishing and equipping new and existing school facilities, including, without limitation, acquiring and developing sites for and constructing new elementary schools, renovating and constructing additions to existing buildings, roof replacement, and transportation facility site improvements? If this proposition is approved, the debt service levy of the school district is estimated to increase by approximately 12 cents, from $0.8019 to $0.9219, per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property."

2012 Bond Plan 

Construction

  • Elementary school (approx. 85,000 square feet; 650 students; includes purchase of land) $20,000,000
  • Early childhood learning center (40,000 square feet; 22 classrooms; eliminate approximately 10 trailers) $8,000,000
  • Transportation facility environmental compliance improvements $5,000,000

Building Improvements

  • Rock Bridge High School roof replacement
  • Tuckpointing (replacing mortar in the exterior bricks) at Field, Douglass, Hickman, Jefferson Junior, West Boulevard Elementary
  • Gentry and Smithton foundation repairs, Hickman parking lot expansion and existing parking lot overlay, Oakland entryway concrete replacement/ADA ramp, and other school improvements
  • Total cost: $3,450,000
  • Shepard Boulevard Elementary School (displace 12 trailers; 25,000 square feet) $5,000,000
  • West Boulevard Elementary School (displace 6 trailers; preschoolers move to early childhood learning center; 20,000 square feet) $4,000,000
  • Lange Middle School kitchen expansion $2,200,000
  • Shepard Boulevard and West Boulevard elementary schools fire sprinkler system upgrades $350,000

Technology

  • Wireless network infrastructure expansion; replacement of network switches, servers, and storage area networks $2,000,000

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The tax levy increase would raise the 2012 adjusted rate from $4.08 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation to $4.48 and bring in an additional $8 million in revenue to Columbia schools. The increase in funds would help maintain staffing and current operations after state and federal funding cuts.

The $50 million bond would raise the debt service levy for the school district by 12 cents, up to 92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This would result in a 52-cent increase in taxes, including the tax levy increase and bond issue. The bond could not be used before November 2014.

The bond would pay for a new 85,000-square-foot elementary school, which will house 650 students and cost the board $20 million, including purchase of land.

Other bond projects include an $8 million childhood learning center and about $14 million in upgrades and improvements to buildings already in place.

The board also hopes the bond would get rid of 60 trailers from Columbia elementary schools.

"We will not have trailers in Columbia, Missouri, by 2020," board member Jonathan Sessions said.

Sessions discussed the possibility of another $50 million bond on the April 2014 ballot that would get rid of the other 50 trailers.

Though there was no action taken Monday, discussion over changes to Columbia’s intermediate and high school attendance areas took up much of the meeting.

Darin Preis, Wanda Brown and Don Ludwig, co-chairs of the Secondary Enrollment Planning Committee, presented their pick of 2013 school attendance areas to the school board. About 40 community members showed up to hear their report and make comments.

In mid-December, the committee unanimously decided it would recommend scenario B for both intermediate and high schools to the board.

Ludwig said the recommendation comes with updated enrollment numbers for 2011. Though the boundary lines did not change from the committee’s most recent adjustments in December, enrollment numbers and the percentage of students at each school receiving free and reduced-price lunches did change.

Preis described scenario B as the "most benign," saying that A and C drew both praise and anger from the public.

"People either loved them, or they hated them," Preis said of those two boundary scenarios. "(B) was the one everybody felt OK with."

Not everyone was OK with it. Five parents of students living in the Spring Creek subdivision told the board they do not support sending some Mill Creek Elementary School students to Jefferson Intermediate School while much of their class goes to Gentry Intermediate School.

"We feel that our kids are being put at a disadvantage," said Andrea Schade, one of the parents who spoke up during time allotted for public comment.

Schade told the board she had calculated the difference in miles driven if her children went to Jefferson instead of Gentry. She said over the time her three children would spend in grades six through eight, the difference would add up to more than 4,300 miles.

Board member Christine King said while she understood moving one boundary line would affect other boundaries, she thought the Mill Creek area warranted another look. Other board members disagreed.

"I'm thinking we've looked at this every way we can," said board member Jim Whitt, who is also on the secondary enrollment planning committee. "Now we should be moving forward."

The board will discuss school boundaries at its January work session and will vote on what scenario to adopt at its meeting in February.

Despite public concerns, five board members passed both collective bargaining policies, HH and HA; board member Jan Mees voted against the policies.

The board also approved the name change for the Columbia Public Schools Administration Building which will now be called the Neil C. Aslin Administration Building.


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Comments

Delcia Crockett January 10, 2012 | 8:59 a.m.

@"The $50 million bond would raise the debt service levy for the school district by 12 cents, up to 92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This would result in a 52-cent increase in taxes, including the tax levy increase and bond issue. The bond could not be used before November 2014."

It is a given - track record in place, that we do not need another tax levy at this time.

Case in point, consider the air-conditioning and our children dismissed from school, when tax money did not go where it was promised.

Therefore, we need to revamp who is in key positions, get rid of the ones not of absolute necessity, and focus on what is good for our children.

No child should ever again be denied attendance into school that is already scheduled for them, just because of error of judgment by select group.

Take the track record and consider.

If we are going to build for the future then we need schools that are suited to children needs and not to administration error in judgment.

Trim down the staff, and take children off addictive medications. Addictive medications are harmful to the growing body.

Even if our community has to go to vouchers and private-instruction schools, at least then the situation will be tailored to a child's specific needs.

We live in a different world than the one-room schoolhouse of centuries past where this rote-method, administrative-focus on education began and became the mainstay. That system has failed, and we need to regroup into the 21st century.

No more taxes. Just better budgeting and trim down the fat cats in education.

Focus on the child reaching full individual potential.

Passing a child off from grade to grade, and then losing them to the streets is no longer acceptable.

We need our quality teachers as focus on learning and not the administration. Otherwise, we need the vouchers, and that will resolve the issue of anyone using buildings as an escuse to "better teach" our children.

Been there. Done that. Let's correct the failure.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis January 10, 2012 | 3:09 p.m.

Come on when is enough going to be enough here? This is crazy every time we turn around the school board is pleading they need more money for the same things? New schools, bigger schools, better schools. I grew up here and in that time we had the same schools. Use the money you have and make it work maybe the big guys could go awhile without raises like the rest of us. Welcome to the world of everyone else!

(Report Comment)

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