Columbia Public Schools will ask voters in April to approve a $20 million bond issue for a series of projects, including more renovations at Jefferson Middle School, the school board’s long-range planning committee announced Wednesday.
The committee's recommendation now goes to the full school board for its approval next month.
Instead of phasing construction of Jefferson Middle’s gymnasium and elevator, the added funds will allow the projects to move forward at the same time, improving accessibility at a school that offers students special programs in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The total budget for the project at Jefferson Middle is $12 million, including some funds from previous bonds and $6 million from the April bond.
The committee also plans to use $3.3 million of the bond to replace the grass on practice fields with turf at Hickman, Rock Bridge and Battle high schools.
The proposed bond is less than the last bond issuance of $30 million in April 2018.
At the planning committee meeting, Heather McArthur, the district’s chief financial officer, announced a schedule for bond requests through 2028:
- 2020: $20 million.
- 2022: $60 million.
- 2026: $30 million.
- 2028: $75 million.
The $60 million bond will be split into two issuances of $30 million, McArthur said. The second issuance will be in 2024.
If the April bond is approved by voters, construction projects will begin this summer.
While Rock Bridge initially raised the idea of raising funds to convert athletic fields to turf, school administrators decided to ask for enough funds to finance a range of projects across the district.
“This is not just about athletics,” CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said. “It’s about athletics, activities and the community. This opens up more opportunities for marching bands, soccer teams, football teams.”
Safety and security projects will get $1 million of the funds, McArthur said. The committee plans to consult with John White, security coordinator for the district, in hopes of adding single-point entry vestibules for schools that have not began constructing them yet.
The committee will also use $2 million dollars for accessibility projects at various schools.
The April bond was originally projected to be $15 million back in February, according to previous Missourian reporting.
McArthur said that the district can afford to borrow more money because it refinanced old bonds at better interest rates.
The planning committee also adopted three goals for the next 10 years: growth, security/safety and accessibility.
Growth means continuing to construct new buildings and, at the same time, maintain existing buildings, Randy Gooch, the district’s chief operations officer, said. He added that the committee needs to make a focused effort on accessibility, developing a master plan and also an action plan.
“It’s not just compliance, but truly making things more accessible for students,” Gooch said.
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