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Columbia Missourian

Columbia School Board to discuss transportation, open lunches

By Caitlin Jones, Whitney Hayward
January 13, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board will discuss moving the district to a three-tier transportation system, open lunch policies for high school students and the 2013-2014 budget during its Monday night meeting.

The board will also vote on the parameters for collective bargaining and changes to Board of Education policies concerning purchasing land, student transportation and school bus scheduling. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

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Three-tier transportation

Superintendent Chris Belcher raised the possibility of a three-tier bell schedule at the Sept. 20 school board meeting. It would change start and stop times for schools districtwide. The Monday meeting will continue discussion of the system. Members will not vote on this issue. 

Columbia Public Schools Transportation committee chair Christine King will give a presentation on the three-tier system. Potential start and stop times for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools are outlined in the presentation. Columbia Public Schools Spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said the suggested times were a proposed model and not an official recommendation.

“We don't know what the time is going to be, won't have an exact time until we’re able to do bus routing,” Baumstark said. “All we can do right now is talk about ranges and potential times. There are a lot of logistics that need to be considered.”

The board will continue discussion of the proposal, but will not take a vote until February. Because the issue is not an action item, the public will be able to voice their opinion during general public comment, which will happen before the presentation, Baumstark said.  

Open lunch

Columbia Public School Board will also discuss changes to the high schools' open lunch policy, which allows students to leave campus for lunch. The school began reconsidering the policy with the opening of Battle High School.

Baumstark said open lunch would likely stay in place only for 11th and 12th graders. 

More than 500 students and 950 parents responded to a survey inquiring about the open lunch policy. Eighty-one percent of students said lunch should be open for grades 9 through 12. Sixty-four percent of parents surveyed said they did not believe lunch should be open for all high school grades. Traffic safety was listed among the highest concerns for off-campus lunch for 74 percent of parents.

A committee made up of the district's nutritionists, high school principals and the assistant superintendent of secondary education, has met monthly since September to discuss potential changes.