School Board votes against outsourcing custodial services at Battle

Monday, November 12, 2012 | 10:39 p.m. CST; updated 9:41 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 13, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public School Board did not approve a contract to outsource its custodial services at Battle High School.

Tom Rose, board president, was the only one to vote in favor of the custodial contract. The board rejected the proposal in a 6-1 vote.

The proposed contract with GCA Services Group out of Knoxville, Tenn., would have started Jan. 1 and lasted 18 months.

At the Oct. 8 meeting, the district’s chief financial officer Linda Quinley said the employees working at GCA have lower pay and fewer benefits than employees with the district.

After negotiations with the company, the wages and benefits were more on par with what the district already provides to its custodians, according to documents on the district's website.

Shift to Common Core

The school board unanimously approved a curriculum that is more in line with the Common Core standards. The Common Core State Standards, approved by the board in June, emphasizes the importance of learning practical and critical-thinking skills as opposed to simple memorization.

The curriculum affected by the move to Common Core are:

  • Language Arts: kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Mathematics: kindergarten through eighth grade.
  • Physical Education: sixth through 12th grade.
  • Theater: sixth through 12th grade.

HVAC Projects

The school board unanimously approved the installation of HVAC systems at four schools. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Harold G. Butzer, Inc., of Jefferson City will install systems at Jefferson Junior High, Rock Bridge Elementary and New Haven Elementary at a cost of about $6 million.

Columbia’s J. Louis Crum Corporation will install the system at West Junior High School for about $3 million.

Students at Jefferson Junior and West Junior were dismissed early eight times earlier this year because of heat conditions, according to previous Missourian reports.

Boone County-School District Agreement

The school board unanimously approved a cooperative agreement with Boone County that would allow the county to cancel its obligatory payment of $250,000 to the district. The money will now be used to make road improvements on St. Charles Road near Battle High School.

Originally, the money was requested from the county to help the district cover the $1.8 million cost of off-site improvements near the new high school.

Library Media Program

Kerry Townsend, a library media specialist in the district, gave a presentation about the district’s library media program, which gives students new ways to use technology.

"We want to provide technology-rich experiences for them," Townsend said.

Board member Jonathan Sessions praised the approach. Technology should be a part of classroom learning and not a field trip to the media lab, he said.

Part of the program is having e-books available for students to download. Townsend said the advantage of this is that many students can have the same book and don’t have to wait for a student to return a physical copy to the library.

Budget Amendments

The school board unanimously approved budget amendments for the 2012-13 school year.

Money will be transferred from the operating budget to the capital budget to offset the road agreement with Boone County, Quinley said.

The board approved a budget amendment to increase special education funding in the district for "interpretation services."

Other items at the board meeting:

  • Darin Preis was sworn in as the new member of the school board. His term will last until April 2013. Previously, Preis was a board member from 2005 to 2008.
  • The district finalized the purchase of property north of Battle High School. On the 32 acres, a 400-student elementary school will be constructed. It is projected to open in 2015.
  • The board will reconsider bids in December on a new set of bleachers for Rock Bridge High School after rejecting a bid from a St. Louis company.
  • Four members of the community spoke against Enhanced Enterprise Zones. The group of citizens asked the school board to have no part in EEZs.

Missourian reporter Ashley Crawford contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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