Columbia School Board Candidates Debate Issues

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COLUMBIA - With less than three weeks until elections for the Columbia School Board, candidates took to the podium once again Thursday to talk issues.

About 15 people attended the forum at Paxton Keeley, mostly teachers and school staff, so it's no surprise a lot of the questions focused on CPS employees-- issues like teacher salary, collective bargaining and tenure.

All four candidates were in attendance-- Melvin Blase, Rex Cone, Paul Cushing and incumbent Christine King.

One question that drew some controversy was about tenure for teachers, administrators and staff. All the candidates agreed they hadn't really thought about the issue for anyone but teachers before. While Blase argued teacher salary should not be tied to tenure, but rather effectiveness in the classroom, Cone said he was against performance pay.

"I am in favor of tenure and one of the reasons is because it is a level of professionalism that the teachers have earned," said Cone.

Something all the candidates could agree upon was the tax levy/bond issue also on the April 3rd ballot. Every candidate running for the two open board spots was strongly in favor.