COLUMBIA — The Columbia Board of Education approved contracts Monday night to construct an elementary school in east Columbia and to renovate the Rock Bridge High School stadium.

The board also approved the 2016-2017 operating budget and updated its policy on reporting child abuse and neglect.

Under the updated policy, all school employees, including bus drivers, custodians and the superintendent, are now required to report any suspected instances to the state Children's Division.

The measure also expanded the definition of "abuse" so that student-on-student abuse must be reported, in addition to abuse or neglect from a parent, guardian or caretaker.

To build the elementary school, expected to open in August 2018, the board authorized a bid of $17.2 million from K&S Associates, a construction company in St. Louis. K&S Associates also built Battle Elementary School.*

The bid is nearly $1 million below the expected cost, so the school district will use those funds to complete an early childhood learning center near Lange Middle School, according to Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley.

The new elementary school will be based on the same basic plan as Battle and Beulah Ralph elementary schools, set to open this fall. Battle has a spoke-like design with educational wings opposite the performance center and gymnasiums. 

The new elementary school will be built near the Vineyards subdivision off Columbia Gorge Parkway and Rolling Hills Road, on a 26-acre site purchased for $832,000, according to previous Missourian reporting.

To renovate the stadium at Rock Bridge, the board approved ORF Construction's bid of $5.39 million.  The project includes improvements to the press box, concession stand, restrooms, football field and track, as well as renovations to the front concrete and facade of the main building.

Both projects are to be funded by a $50 million bond issue approved by voters in April 2014.

The board approved a $333 million budget for 2016-2017, representing an increase of $16.2 million in expenditures and $15.1 million in revenues from the previous year. 

Among new expenditures, the budget includes: 

  • $1.9 million for a districtwide salary increase.
  • Another $6.8 million for improved compensation for all district employees.**
  • $1.2 million for increases in medical premiums.
  • $1.2 million for noncapital startup costs for Beulah Ralph Elementary and the Center for Early Learning-North.
  • $308,470 for new fine arts teaching staff.
  • $369,815 to hire classroom aides for elementary schools. 
  • $212,000 for new assistant principals at Benton and West Boulevard elementary schools.
  • $90,000 for additional after-school meals.
  • $46,677 for increased gifted education staff.
  • $60,638 for a new instructional technology specialist.
  • $140,000 for new Hickman High School band uniforms.

Release of back property taxes from Hy-Vee supermarkets will add nearly $1 million in revenue to the district's budget. The supermarket chain's corporate headquarters had protested the assessed value of one of its Columbia locations over a three-year period, according to Michelle Baumstark, communications director for the board.

In April, voters also authorized the largest school-operating tax levy ever in Columbia. Voters authorized the 65-cent property tax levy increase with 52.57 percent of the vote, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

  • I am a summer term reporter at the University of Missouri. My area of study is Magazine Writing, and my hometown is Scottsboro, Alabama. You can reach me by email at acmwx7@mail.missouri.edu or on Twitter @annamapletree

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