Columbia Public Schools asks for $30 million bond
COLUMBIA - A new middle school for the Columbia Public School District could be one answer to an expected increase in student enrollment. Final funding would be part of a proposed $30 million bond requested by the district.
"The school district is essentially borrowing money in order to do certain projects," said Jery Dowell, the director of government affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. "It's completing the school district's 10-year-plan on infrastructure improvements."
By law, bonds are only allowed to go toward funds for construction, renovation, technology or equipment.
The bond would mean no tax increase is needed.
According to data provided by Columbia Public Schools, there are currently 18,000 students enrolled. By the year 2026, the district expects an increase to 19,808.
Due to the lack of classroom space, CPS has been accommodating students with temporary trailers to serve as classrooms.
"They had to reevaluate how they were planning for the future, so they came up with the plan to move forward with making better learning environments and getting rid of the trailers that popped up all over the district," Dowell said.
By 2020, CPS hopes to have fewer than 20 trailers.
The $30 million bond would go toward new construction building additions, building improvements, technology and safety and security.
Hickman High School, Jefferson Middle School, Fairview Elementary School and others are being promised improvements or replacements.
Some schools, such as Grant Elementary and Jefferson Middle School, are at least 107 years old.
"We have a lot of historic elementary, middle and high schools where it might be cheaper to demolish and build a new building. When you have to repair an old building, it's going to cost more money," Dowell said.
Voting for the bond is April 3 and requires 57 percent approval.