Principals rank building needs

Voters could decide on $22.5 million bond.
Friday, November 21, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:31 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This holiday season children won’t be the only ones making wish lists. Principals in the Columbia Public School District are hoping their most pressing school facility needs will be covered by a proposed $22.5 million bond issue.

In January, the school board will decide whether to put the proposal before voters on the April ballot. Deputy Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said the district’s financial adviser has determined that $22.5 million is the amount of money that could be issued without a tax increase.

In September, each of the district’s 30 principals were asked by the school board to make a list of his or her school’s top three facility needs. Those needs were presented to the board Thursday morning.

Cowherd said the collective wish list has been edited by leaders in the district and others, and further trimming is expected. Nothing has been “qualified as ridiculous,” he told board members.

Many of the needs include repair, renovations and additions to school facilities.

At its December meeting, the board will review the principals’ priorities and a separate set of priorities drawn up by the district’s department of building services and Dennis Walker, an architect with Hunter & Associates.

Superintendent Phyllis Chase said the list the board received Thursday does not reflect all of the district’s desires nor does it include changes proposed in its long-range plan.

The long-range plan was developed by the board in 1999 and is scheduled to go through 2006. It includes construction of specialized space, renovations, maintenance and purchasing equipment and curricular software. So far, projects that are part of the plan — such as construction of Paxton Keeley Elementary School — have been funded by a $35 million bond issue in 2000 and a $23.8 million bond issue in 2002.

“All 2000 and 2002 money has been allocated, although some of the projects haven’t been completed,” Cowherd said.

If approved by voters, the bond money would cover the remaining projects in the long-range plan and parts of the wish list.

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