The Columbia School Board unanimously approved the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget for Columbia Public Schools on Monday night. It will go into effect on July 1.
The budget increased more than 13 percent over last year’s budget, owing to increased salaries for employees and funds being put away for future building projects like the new middle school planned for Sinclair Road. The new middle school is supposed to open in fall 2020.
Even though the district will spend more money next year, revenues from the state are expected to increase and offset the extra expenditures.
The budget is also projected to save about $9 million, which will be placed in the capital projects fund. The fund pays for big ticket items like the new middle school and Cedar Ridge Elementary School, among other things.
The board also gave a first read to a new state-mandated suicide prevention policy. The policy has been adapted from its original form to be more specific to the size of the district. One of the major changes is that a student’s school will be responsible for directly providing counseling services.
Board member James Whitt asked if Superintendent Peter Stiepleman thought there were enough resources to meet the requirements.
“Yes,” Stiepleman said. “Our children are hurting, and we are working incredibly hard to meet their needs.”
The board also approved the community use of district property. This means playgrounds, fields and outdoor courts will be open to the public while school is not in session and if they have not already been reserved by the district.
The board honored a teacher, Laura Estabrooks, for being a Breaking Traditions Educator state secondary winner. Several students were also honored by the board:
- Adam Banks and Phillip Chindris for receiving National Elementary Math Competition awards;
- The Battle High School’s bowling team for winning its state competition;
- Rock Bridge High School’s Boy’s Golf team for winning its state competition and setting several course records;
- Rock Bridge High School’s Girl’s Swim and Dive team for winning its state competition;
- Siddhant Chaurasia for winning the marketing and advertising sections of the Future Business Leaders of America competition;
- Danielle Schneider for getting first place for Lesson Plan in STEM at Educators Rising’s competition.