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Schools focus on funds for facilities

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Columbia Public School District has the fiscal muscle to fund facility improvements through bonds without raising taxes, according to a scenario by a financial planning firm.

Jack Dillingham, a managing director in the Investment Banking group at Piper Jaffray who gave a presentation at a school board meeting Tuesday, said the district can afford to borrow $60 million next year to pay for unspecified school improvement projects and another $60 million in 2011 for the same purpose. The board’s Long-Range Facilities Task Force is developing recommendations on long-term capital improvement projects, including the possibility of a new high school.

Board President Karla DeSpain said the task force is discussing constructing a third high school but still needs to determine whether other projects are a higher priority.

Superintendent Phyllis Chase said the meeting was held so the board would be familiar with the report before their next regular meeting on Nov. 13.

“It’s pretty important for us to get some idea of the financial picture of our bonds,” said board member Steve Calloway. “It will set the parameters of what we’re looking at doing to improve the facilities. We still need to figure out how much what we need costs and when we need it.”

Calloway said any final decision to take out bonds would have to be approved by district voters.


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