Fourteen full-time math coaches will be added to the Columbia Public School District next year after the school board approved the $164 million budget Monday night.
Eleven coaches will be added in elementary schools while three will be added in middle schools. Three elementary schools — Paxton Keeley, Derby Ridge, and Mill Creek — will have full-time math coaches, and the other eight coaches at the elementary level will be split up among the remaining 16 schools.
Math coaches were not included in the budget as a result of recent debate among some parents concerned with the nontraditional math curriculum in the schools, said Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
“We are striving to provide the best math education for our students, and we believe the math coaches will enhance what teachers are already doing very well,” Cozette said.
The math coaches will help with math curriculum and instruction, working alongside teachers in classrooms. Cozette said the idea for hiring math coaches came after several years of requests made by teachers who felt they would benefit from additional support.
Nearly 70 new positions, including the math coaches, will be added in the district. Of those new positions, 87 percent will be in the classroom. Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, said the district began hiring 40 of the new positions since the school board approved the positions earlier this year. The math coaches were among the positions already filled. Linda Coutts, coordinator of elementary mathematics in the district, said the math coaches were hired in April. All coaches hired were already teachers in the district.
Cozette said the coaches will be paid on a salary schedule, just
like teachers, based on longevity and level of education. The district looked for teachers with at least five years of classroom experience, Coutts said.
The district was waiting to fill the remainder of the 70 new positions until after the budget was approved.
The district will dig into reserve funds to compensate for next year’s budgeted expenditures. More than $10 million from the reserve funds will be used. Board Vice President Darin Preis voiced concerns about the use of reserve funds last week at two community forums held for the public. Despite those concerns, Preis said he was enthusiastic about the budget.
“We’re meeting a lot of requests from schools, and it’s covering a lot of bases,” Preis said. “But we need to be very planful about increases in the future.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, Tom Rose was sworn in as the newest member of the board. Rose took over for the remainder of Don Ludwig’s term, which expires next April.
“We’re losing a great board member in Don Ludwig,” Preis said. “But Dr. Rose will be a great replacement.”