CPS hopes bond, tax levy pass today

Walter Wang

Mr. Samuel Martin, one of current senior class counselors, works on enrollment for next year's sophomores. The guidance department could see cuts if the Levy doesn't pass. Photo by Shaun Gladney.
Part of tomorrow’s special election session will decide the passing of a bond issue proposal and tax levy for Columbia Public Schools. The bond issue will require a 57 percent majority to pass, while the tax levy needs a simple majority.
If the bond issue passes, the debt service levy of the school district will increase by about 12 cents, going from 80.19 cents to 92.19 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property. This money will go to expanding elementary schools.
“We have 20-plus percent of our kids in the elemtnary schools in trailers at any given time, and we have just got to get new trailers,” Superintendent Chris Belcher said. “The average age of the trailers is 10 years-old. We’ll probably grow 150 to 200 kids each year, so we’re just a fast growing community and we have to get better quality facilities.”
The tax levy would increase the operating levy tax by 40 cents, increasing it to $4.4793 per $100 of assessed valuation. The funds from the tax levy are for district funding of current programs, which because of the loss of funding from the state of Missouri.
The levy “is simply a result of the state of Missouri decreasing funding of public schools significantly,” Belcher said. “We’ve cut $20 million out of our budget of $160 million in the last four years. We’ve cut 250 staff members, and we think it’s time for the public to weigh in to say will they support us with local dollars since the state’s not supporting us so we won’t have to make any more cuts from our school system.”
RBHS has cut 11 staff in five years while the student population has grown by 100 students, Principal Mark Maus said. The tax levy will aim at improving student support services and reducing class sizes while preventing further staff cuts.
“We’ve seen class sizes grow, we’ve reduced our support services and we’ve reduced class offerings just because we don’t have have enough teachers to meet students course requests,” Maus said. “One of the things this bond and levy proposes is to put back some of those pieces that have been taken away.”
By Walter Wang