At its Monday meeting, the Columbia School Board outlined its vision for the $20 million bond that will go before voters April 7. The bond does not come with a tax increase.
In a presentation, Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman explained that Missouri does not fund major construction projects or technology, which is why local funding is required for such projects.
The bond plan, scheduled to be issued in June 2020 if passed by voters, is broken down in six parts:
- $7.5 million to building additions to address district growth.
- $6 million to Jefferson Middle School renovations, which include gym construction, elevator installation in the main part of the building and federal Americans with Disabilities Act enhancements.
- $3.3 million to high school athletic field projects, including turf installation on practice fields at Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools.
- $2 million to federal Americans with Disabilities Act enhancements and facility maintenance.
- $1 million to safety and security enhancements.
- $200,000 to bond fees for issuing bonds.
The bond presentation also highlighted the ages of existing district buildings, the lower number of trailers being used in the district and future bonds that are expected in the next eight years.
With the opening of John Warner Middle School in August 2020, new middle school and high school attendance areas will take effect, which are also outlined in a facility and bond plan from the presentation.
Budget parameters 2020-21
Heather McArthur, the district’s chief financial officer, led the consideration for the 2020-21 budget parameters, which the board passed unanimously following discussion.
McArthur explained that the board has used a five-year budget planning model in recent years that has resulted in intentionally increased operating fund balances.
McArthur explained six parameters for next year’s budget:
1. Budget requests would be considered “in a way that prioritizes student achievement.” Those requests would be reviewed based on need and whether it fits the district’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.
2. Budgets will be prioritized “intentionally and specifically” through a modified zero-based budgeting approach.
3. The board will consider salary improvements and prioritize the model salary schedule, which is defined as “a three-column schedule with a starting salary of $40,000.
4. Employee benefit programs will be considered by the board.
5. The five-year model will reflect “a minimum 18-20% level of fund balances.”
6. The budget will allocate and prioritize capital project budgets, emphasizing “growth, safety and security issues and maintaining existing facilities.”
“We have six items that we want to make sure are significant as we are building our budget going forward,” McArthur said.
Before voting, Columbia School Board President Helen Wade addressed the word “equity” not being present in the parameters, speaking to Stiepleman directly. She proposed adding it somewhere in the parameters.
During the public comment section of the board meeting, six people spoke about accessibility in the district.
One commenter was Lydia Olmsted, an 18-year-old student, who spoke about the recording policy for meetings in the district.
“I am not receiving the support systems and training that I need from the district,” Olmsted said after leaving the meeting. “Their policies kind of impede with my needs.”
In other news
- The board approved an update to its professional staff development policy. The district will now count a teacher’s work in a local business externship toward professional development hours. The updated policy will also count training on dyslexia and related disorders for up to two hours of professional development.
- The board approved an update to its academic calendar policy to be in accordance with Missouri law. The update comes after House Bill 604 was passed, preventing the district from setting the first day of school earlier than 14 days prior to the first Monday in September.
Supervising editor is Hannah Hoffmeister.