Columbia school board approves extension to superintendent's contract

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COLUMBIA - School board members unanimously approved a one-year extension to the current contract of district superintendent Peter Stiepleman, through June 30, 2022.

Stiepleman said he hopes to continue meeting the goals of the school board in the upcoming years. 

"To get the support of the school board to say that, you know, I've met my goals for this past year, they'll set some new ones that they'll retreat this coming year and I hope to continue to make them proud and to make our community proud."

Board president Helen Wade praised Stiepleman's work as a superintendent. 

"We agreed that his performance and his leadership, his vision, and his goals for the Columbia Public Schools district have aligned very much with the demands of the board of education throughout his tenure here," she said. 

Stiepleman has served as superintendent since 2014, when the school board chose him to take over for then superintendent Chris Belcher. 

In December, former school board president Jan Mees sent a letter to Stiepleman notifying him of the desire of the board to extend his contract. 

He is on a three-year contract that the board extends from year to year. 

When he took over the job, Stiepleman said he wanted to focus on giving students access to opportunities outside of the classroom, including foreign languages, sports and music. 

Stiepleman said he has accomplished those goals. 

"We have seen an increase in the number of kids who are participating in athletics, in activities," he said. "That's been my goal, is to try to find ways to engage kids outside, not just in content areas, but outside the schools as well."

However, Stiepleman said there's still work to do to reduce disparity between students of color and those who are on free and reduced lunch, when it comes to reading scores. 

"One really great way is the work that we are doing in our elementary schools around reading instruction, particularly in the early years, to try to fill those gaps way before something becomes an issue when a child gets to middle school," he said. 

The school board also approved a salary increase for Stiepleman of about seven percent.