A 40-cent tax levy increase and $50 million bond issue have been unanimously approved by Columbia school board members, to go on the April ballot. The move came at last night's school board meeting.
The funds generated by the tax levy and the bond issue would pay for a new elementary school, and help with facilities upgrades including the elimination of trailers that are used as classrooms at elementary schools across the district.
Speaking yesterday on KBIA’s Intersection, Columbia school district superintendent Chris Belcher says the tax levy increase also would help keep the district afloat following the expected loss of federal stimulus dollars.
"If the state economy continues to slump, and we do not get any new revenue from the state, failure to do any action locally will result in us having to dismantle some very important programs in Columbia Public Schools that make us special," Belcher said.
The bond issue would be used to finance the improvements to schools and fund new construction. Combined, Belcher says the increases are expected to cost Columbia homeowners an additional $12.34 per month, for a median family home valued at $150,000.
Columbia School Board member Jan Mees said on Intersection yesterday that the measures were necessary, and have been carefully considered by board members.
"The board has been mulling this over for quite a long period of time, and really realizes that the numbers show, we do need enhancements to our budget."
Columbia residents will now have a chance to approve or reject the increases on the April ballot.