Columbia schools

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COLUMBIA - The induction of two new board members, a board presidential election and appropriations of a $30 million bond were the big things happening at the Columbia Public School Board meeting on Monday evening.

This was the board's first meeting since the election on April 3, where voters approved the bond and elected Teresa Maledy and Susan Blackburn to replace the seats of Christine King and Darin Preis. They are the first new members to be elected since 2014. 

At the beginning of the meeting the board elected Jan Mees as its new president and Paul Cushing as vice president.

Five million of the multi-million dollar bond will go toward constructing a new school, Southwest Middle School, which will be on Sinclair Road. Maledy said the bond will also be used for expansion in schools to eliminate trailers, technology updates, and safety and security. 

"Because of our growth, a middle school is needed to accommodate those students," Maledy said. 

Maledy listed Gentry Middle School as one example of schools facing overcrowding, being 300 over capacity. 

The bond passed by 83 percent, which Maledy said puts community trust at an all-time high.

Bringing that number up is one of the three priorities Maledy said she wants to focus on in her term. 

"The first one was closing the achievement gap across all of the demographics. Second was really developing a strategy to attract and retain quality teachers. And third was to continue to earning the trust, confidence and financial support for the Columbia Public Schools." 

Before Maledy and Blackburn's induction, members and the public thanked King and Preis for their years of work. 

"Their service has been invaluable to this district, they have seen us through enormous changes in this district," Kathy Steinhoff, president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association said.

"They sought truly to make Columbia Public Schools the best district in the state, and I am confident they will continue to do so," she said. 

The groundbreaking for Southwest Middle School will be in June of this year, with expected completion in 2020. 

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