Columbia school ballot measures focus on facilities, new hires
Residents of Columbia will be voting on ballot measures that will fund future projects for Columbia Public Schools. The measures would help fund projects that will begin in 2014, and some residents feel that it’s the right time to look towards the future of Columbia Public Schools. In April municipal election, Columbia voters will have the opportunity to decide on two proposals that would help fund the school district’s future projects. A 50 million dollar bond issuance and debt service levy make up the first ballot measure, which would raise property taxes in Columbia 12 cents. School district community relations coordinator Michelle Baumstark explains that 39.2 million dollars raised by the bonds would go towards new construction, including kitchen expansion at Lange Middle School and a new elementary school on the south side of Columbia.
Baumstark says the rest of the money would be spent on building improvements, including wireless network infrastructure expansion and physical repairs: "We have about $8.8 million in building improvements that need to be conducted and that includes roofing repair, new roofs, tuck-pointing, which is repairing the mortar between the bricks."
Additionally, a 40-cent tax levy increase is listed as the second ballot measure. Combined, both the bond issuance and the tax levy would raise property taxes 52-cents. Baumstark explains that this money would be used for operating costs, especially to hire new teachers: "Those last four years we’ve cut nearly $20 million dollars from our budget and 250 employees. And what’s happening now is we’re really starting to feel the impact of what that meant for our school district. And it means larger class sizes."
Voting for both ballot measures will take place on April 3rd, and will need 57 percent of voter approval to pass.