Will board let citizens vote on increased levy?

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public School District announced at its finance committee meeting Wednesday it will ask its board for an increased tax levy, hoping to gain more money from people who reside in the school district. Next year, the school district will remove about 13 full-time teaching positions but add about 10 full-time teaching positions in other areas. The district had to eliminate about two full time teaching positions from the middle school music level, so class size will increase. Next year, CPS projects it will have $2 million less in total revenue.

"We have a great music program, so it's not good to do that," Superintendent Chris Belcher said about the reductions. "But that was one of the areas we knew for parity that we could look at."

Smithton Middle School teacher Jim Johnson is one of the teachers who doesn't have his job. He was notified of the position loss two Fridays ago.

"The three of us old guys at Smithton were asked to meet with Jean and Dr. Jacobs, and we kind of knew what was going to come down," Johnson said of he and two other part time employees at Smithton.

Johnson said he didn't want to think about all the people who've had an effect on him throughout his 30 years in the district. Total, Johnson's about to finish his 40th year as a teacher.

"If I started doing that I'm gonna tear up," Johnson said of thinking about his last month. "It's just been a wonderful experience. Some of the best kids anywhere could ever dream to have."

Belcher doesn't want to have to remove any more positions from the school district, part of the reason CPS will ask its board to propose an increased tax levy on property owners. The public would vote on the increase, and the board will only discuss it Monday. The board does not know when it will vote on it.