School district refines budget plans

Concern exists about using reserve money to fund programs.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:06 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Columbia Board of Education identified priorities for unused money in the 2005-06 proposed budget Monday night.

Before Monday, the budgeted revenue for the 2005-06 year was $8,513,424, with expenditures totaling $8,315,000, leaving a total of $198,000 left for unidentified use.

Phyllis Chase, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, presented to the board a list of seven priorities to divide among the remaining funds. Two were approved and added to the budget plan.

The top priority, which was included in the final budget, was $84,000 for Positive Behavioral Support, a districtwide program that aims to improve student behavior and reduce discipline referrals. The program, which will allow the district to hire two employees, would be evaluated after one year.

The other approved priority was $100,000 for vocational instruction and supplies.

A health insurance stipend totaling $76,000 for current part-time employees also passed and was added to the budget plan, bringing the final budget to $62,000 over the projected revenue.

The public hearing and vote to approve the final proposed budget are scheduled for June.

Board member Don Ludwig had voiced his concern with Chase’s proposal.

“I am very uncomfortable with a budget that uses a reserve for reoccurring expenses,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig’s main concern is the next year’s budget. He questioned the board on what it will do next year once the reserve fund has been dipped into to compensate for the extra spending.

“Our eyes should be wide open that if our resources aren’t supported, we’ll have to cut resources,” Ludwig said.

Board Vice President Karla DeSpain said that there are not many one-time expenses that money is put toward. She said the reserve money should be used while there is more money in the fund.

“While we have the capability for next year, I feel we should carry through with that,” DeSpain said.

Chase’s proposed priorities that were not adopted included:

  • $50,000 for early-childhood education.
  • $84,000 for junior high school literacy coaches.
  • $60,000 for custodial supervision.
  • $21,000 for a nursing position.
  • $21,000 for a counselor position.

Chase’s priorities would have totaled $420,000. The approved priorities total $184,000.

Other issues discussed at the meeting include the changes made to the summer school program.

Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented the changes made to the summer school program after evaluating the success of last year’s program.

One major change to the program is transportation. Student addresses will be carefully checked to better determine their location placement and to reduce conflicts, Cozette said.

Also, attendance incentives provided by Newton Learning, a private company contracted to run Columbia’s summer school, can now be donated to the Ronald McDonald House charity or another charity. Parents can decide if incentives, given in the form of gift cards, should go to the student or a charity.

The curriculum for summer school has also been changed to more closely align with the curriculum of the regular school year.

Summer school begins June 13.

Missourian reporter Jesse Chapman contributed to this report.

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