Columbia School Board to vote on a teacher's union contract

Sunday, May 12, 2013 | 3:30 p.m. CDT; updated 3:46 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 13, 2013

*A previous version of this article misstated which school meal would cost $1.80.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board is expected to vote Monday on a contract ratified by the Columbia Missouri National Education Association.

The contract is the product of negotiations between the association and the district’s administrative bargaining team.

The contract for the 2013-14 school year includes a clause mandating a 25-minute, duty-free lunch period and a clause requiring that 250 minutes be reserved each week for the association's members' instructional planning. The contract also calls for the formation of seven new committees for air quality, school supply lists, employee benefits, association members' compensation, stipends, the calendar and secure personal storage.

Board President Christine King said Columbia Public Schools administrative staff members will most likely chair these committees if the board approves the contract. The board will occasionally need to vote on the committees' proposals.

“It is our intent that board members would not sit on those committees,” King said. “If this is what is important to our staff, then they can help solve the issues.”

The board will review an update to the district’s Building and Grounds Security Policy. The proposed update would allow the district’s two safety and security officers to carry firearms. These officers, who currently do not carry firearms, act as first responders for all district facilities, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

A final vote on whether or not to adopt the update to the policy will take place at the board's June 10 meeting.

The board policy committee voted against arming the safety and security officers with firearms in 2011, but after the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the update was reconsidered, Baumstark said.

“Some of the concern of what happened brought it to the forefront to put it forward again for a possible vote,” she said. “We were talking about it before Sandy Hook, but that kind of propelled it forward.”

The two officers who would carry firearms under the new policy are retired police officers with more than 20 years' experience. Baumstark said if the update is approved, the officers will complete cultural and professional training over the summer, in preparation for the 2013-14 school year.

The board also is expected to vote on an increase in school lunch prices. Because of increased fruit and vegetable requirements for student lunches under the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, the cost of each plate of food is higher than before, Baumstark said.

According to the meal price proposal, the recommended increase of 10 cents would make secondary student lunches cost $2.60 each, elementary student lunches cost $2.35 and adult lunches $3.10. Breakfast prices would increase by 10 cents as well. Student breakfasts would cost $1.45, and adult breakfast* would cost $1.80.

Other action items include Lee Elementary School’s proposal to become a small autonomous school and a series of summer projects totaling approximately $4.9 million, including roof repairs to five schools, according to the meeting materials.

The school board meeting is open to the public and scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at 1818 W. Worley St. The board's documents are available online on the district's website.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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