Board of Education holds public meeting on financial plans

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Board of Education held an open meeting Monday night to discuss different avenues to finance the city's education system.

"Conversation was deep and honest about where we stand financially as a district, but very board driven." said Board of Education Vice President Jonathan Sessions.

The group discussed two solutions to generate more revenue for improvement ventures in the public education system. 

One option that would be available to voters is a 65-cent levy increase that would generate $14.3 million.

That money would go towards investing in better training techniques and equipment for teachers in the Columbia school system as well as salary increases. 

The 65-cent tax rate increase for the average home in Columbia translates to $185.25 per household.

According to material released by the board of education, that is the exact amount of money necessary to end deficit spending. 

Another option the board discussed is to continue the no-tax-increase bond issue that has been in place since 2010. This measure would generate $35 million, but to go into effect, residents would have to allow the board to take on the debt.

Board members said that would lead to a significant improvement by allowing construction of a new middle school on the south side of town.

Keeping the current no-tax-increase bond would not bring any changes to community members' tax bills. However, it would delay changes in the education system until 2018. Board members said such an investment would continue to show years into the future.  

"I support both on the ballot because it shows we keep our promises to the community and that we are great stewards of taxpayer dollars." Sessions said.

The board did not vote on whether to send the issues to the April election ballot.