UPDATE: School Board approves air conditioning bids, 2012-13 budget parameters

Monday, February 13, 2012 | 11:31 p.m. CST; updated 11:59 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 15, 2012

*CORRECTION: Donna Kessell's daughter will be graduating from high school before the boundary changes take effect. An earlier version of this story misstated how she will be affected by the change.

COLUMBIA — Bids for air conditioning systems were approved for Grant, Lee, Midway Heights and Ridgeway elementary schools by the Columbia School Board on Monday evening.

These projects are expected to be completed this summer. A bid for an air conditioning system at Field School was also approved, but it will not be installed until 2012-13. 


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The board debated cost efficiency of the proposed geo-thermal well air-conditioning system for Two Mile Prairie Elementary School. With several systems introduced that have never been used before in district buildings, members expressed their concerns over accepting the bid for a system that might not be as efficient as another.

Questec Constructors Inc., which proposed the AC systems, had one of its proposed systems denied because the company did not provide all necessary information during the application process.

Compared to the geo-thermal system presented in the proposal, the denied system, called the variable refrigerate volume (VRV) system, would potentially save money for the district. Questec President Scott Boyd proposed another potentially cost-efficient system that was also denied due to a lack of installation details and certification.

Board Vice President Christine King said she was uncomfortable accepting a bid with a higher price tag if there were another system that could potentially be cheaper and more efficient.

Boyd said the company would be willing to reassess the AC systems and would resubmit an application. The board will review the bid again March 12.

The project is proposed to be finished this summer, spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark confirmed later.

Budget parameters for the 2012-13 school year passed with a 6-1 vote. Michelle Pruitt dissented, saying she thinks salaries should be connected to student performance.

Superintendent Chris Belcher said it is not a good time to discuss merit-based pay for teachers because the state legislature has the district in "handcuffs" with regards to state funding.

The parameters include measures to:

Other items approved by the board:

Although there was no vote Monday night, the board introduced a revised transfer policy and a transfer policy related to redistricting. 

Donna Kessell, a parent in the district, said she thinks the district should have paid more attention to walking distance to and from high schools. She and her family live close to Hickman High School. *Her daughter will be graduating before the boundary changes take effect, but under the newly approved boundary scenario B, if she were in high school after the changes took effect, she would be assigned to Rock Bridge High School.

Richard Hawkins, a parent whose child will be going to Hickman under the new boundaries, is more concerned with balancing enrollment totals at schools than with the ability to transfer.

"My only request is that you do not overcrowd that school," he said. "That's not fair to those kids."

David Buster just wants all of his children to go to the same school. He has a child at Rock Bridge, but they have been reassigned to the Battle attendance area. He said his family has made an investment in their schools.

"You may consider it petty, but it's one of those family-unity kind of things," Buster said.

The board will vote on the transfer policies at its Feb. 23 meeting. Wanda Brown, superintendent of secondary education, said transfers between schools are nothing new and students will benefit wherever they go. 

"It's a matter of two great schools, and with Battle, it'll be three great schools," Brown said.

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