Voters To Decide Columbia School District Proposals

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COLUMBIA - Voters heading to the polls Tuesday will decide whether or not to pass two proposals from the Columbia School District.  One proposal is for a 40-cent levy increase, and the other a $50 million bond issue.  The cost would cost roughly $148 on a yearly tax bill for a Columbia house valued at $150,000.

If passed, the levy would pay for operation costs including salories and utilities.  This would increase the current levy ceiling to $4.94 per every $100 of assessed valuation. The current ceiling is $4.54, but the district doesn't have to charge that much, it just can't charge any more than that.

The bond would pay for additional buildings and additions to current buildings.  The district hopes to eliminate its 153 mobile trailers by adding a new elementary school and expand existing schools.  A new elementary schools is set to open in 2015 next to the new Battle High School, but this would add yet another elementary school.  The district also hopes to build an early childhood education center. 

Superintendent Chris Belcher said the district added 159 students between the 2010-11 and the current school year.  The district is also expecting to add an additional 665 students by the 2016-17 school year. That would raise enrollment by more than 1,000 students. 

State lawmakers have made recent changes in school budgets so that K-12 education receives the highest amount of funding it ever has in Missouri's history.  Those opposed to the proposals said home resale value is already down, and making cuts at home is tough enough.  Those in favor of the proposals  said it's important to expand because our youth represent the city's future. 

The district last tried to pass a 54-cent levy increase in 2009, but it failed with 62 percent of voters opposed.  If the proposals pass, the Columbia School District would rank fourth for the highest tax levy ceilings among 12 other size-comparable Missouri districts.