School Board votes on Mill Creek enrollment, busing, discusses superintendent search

Monday, January 13, 2014 | 10:35 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board wrapped up some questions about redistricting at Mill Creek Elementary and discussed the search for a new superintendent at its Monday meeting.

Mill Creek redistricting

The School Board made the final decision on two issues regarding Mill Creek Elementary School's new district boundaries.

Last month, after finalizing Mill Creek's new boundaries, the board voted to move 90 of Mill Creek's 851 students to Paxton Keeley, Russell Boulevard and Grant elementary schools in the 2014-15 school year. The district boundaries were redrawn to relieve overcrowding, but the board voted that this year's fourth-grade students — 13 future fifth-graders — affected by the boundary change would be allowed to stay at Mill Creek for the 2014-15 school year.

These decisions raised more questions about the logistics of Mill Creek enrollment.

The board voted unanimously that the district would provide transportation for future fifth-graders continuing to attend Mill Creek for the 2014-15 school year.

In a 2-5 vote, the board denied a proposal to allow siblings of rising fifth-graders remaining at Mill Creek to stay at the school for the same year.

Members of the board said they voted to provide bus transportation because it would have relatively little financial impact and because the stops could easily be added to existing routes.

Board member Helen Wade said the public should not see this action as a promise to provide similar services in the future in other contexts.

Members of the board said they felt the proposal to allow siblings of future fifth-graders to attend Mill Creek for the 2014-15 school year would be logistically challenging.

"It kind of defeats the purpose of what we're trying to do here," Board President Christine King said.

The proposal would have affected about 20 siblings, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Superintendent search

The board also accepted Superintendent Chris Belcher's letter of retirement and discussed plans for the search of his replacement.

"All good things come to an end, and this one ends June 30," King said.

Belcher will retire as superintendent at the end of the 2014 school year to start a faculty position at the MU College of Education. Board members said they want to move quickly and finalize plans in the next week.

The board discussed plans to:

  • Search for applicants both externally and within the district.
  • Work with the Missouri School Board Association to conduct the external search.
  • Post the job opening for 4 weeks once they reach an agreement with MSBA.
  • Begin conducting interviews after the job has been posted for four weeks.

Belcher, 55, has held the superintendent position since June 2009. His contract was through the 2015 school year, but District Spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said that does not preclude a person from retiring.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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