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Columbia School Board approves teacher's union contract

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 10:57 p.m. CDT; updated 7:46 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

COLUMBIA — A contract between the Columbia Missouri National Education Association and the district was approved by the Columbia School Board in a Monday night meeting.

The contract outlines 250 minutes of weekly instructional planning and 25-minute, duty-free lunch periods for full-time teachers.

The contract also introduces seven committees to be formed for the 2013-14 school year, including ones for compensation, air quality and school supply lists.

The contract raises the rate of pay for professional development activities, including teacher training, from $15 per hour to $27 per hour, but the scheduled salaries for teachers will not change.

Dean Klempke, chair of Columbia Missouri National Education Association’s compensation committee, said employee pay discussions that occurred during the contract negotiations never came to fruition.

“Many points of discussion were brought to the table about employee compensation,” he said at the Monday meeting. “At this point, we have yet to reach an agreement about these issues.”

Superintendent Chris Belcher said he hopes future negotiations with the teachers' group will occur in public, rather than private, as they were for the contract the board voted to approve Monday.

“It was my recommendation that the negotiations be open. At the request of CMNEA, those were closed negotiations," Belcher said. "It’s not fair in public to make accusations about what wasn’t and was done in closed negotiations.”

District receives checks for energy conservation efforts

Todd Culley, CEO of Boone Electric Cooperative, presented two checks for a total of $24,964 to Board President Christine King for projects at Two Mile Prairie Elementary School and Battle High School. 

Culley said the district invested in high-efficiency projects at both schools, including a dual-fuel ventilation heating system at Two Mile Prairie and a lighting system at Battle. The projects would save the schools $9,000 a year in operational costs, he said.

Gun policy discussed in preparation for vote 

A proposed gun policy was also discussed at the meeting.

If passed, the district's director and assistant director of security — currently John White and Ken Gregory — would be able to carry concealed handguns.

White, who answered questions from the board, said he is often a first responder to incidents on school grounds. Carrying a concealed weapon would allow him to take action before other responders arrived if a shooter was at a school, he said.

“I would do the best I could with nothing,” White said in response to a question from the board on how he would handle an incident without a weapon.

The policy recommends that the director and assistant director have a minimum of 10 years of full-time law enforcement experience to carry a firearm. Only school resource officers can now carry weapons on school grounds. The district has four school resource officers, District Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley said.

Board member Darin Preis said he is uncomfortable with guns in schools. 

“This feels reactionary to me,” Preis said, referring to recent shootings. “Would this really make a difference in a district this large?”

King said she and Belcher would continue discussions before deciding whether the policy was ready to be put on the June budget as an action item. 

Action items approved by the board Monday included: 

    • Designation of Lee Elementary School as a small autonomous school.
    • More than $4,900,000 to fund summer projects at Columbia schools, such roofing and renovation.
    • Increase in school meal prices by 10 cents. This will not affect free and reduced lunches.

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