CPS awaits board's vote on language for new bond issue

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools is reaching what communications director Michelle Baumstark calls the "tail-end" of its 10-year strategic plan aimed at reducing overcrowding in schools, but it still has work to do to reach completion. 

The Columbia Board of Education will vote Monday on ballot language for a $30 million dollar bond issue that would not raise taxes.

Funds would go towards the construction of a new middle school, as well as renovating existing school buildings, technology upgrades and repairing roofs and parking lots. 

"We've seen significant growth in south Columbia," Baumstark said. "There is currently only one middle school located directly in south Columbia so we've seen that building continue to grow." 

Baumstark said Gentry Middle School was built for 650 students. It currently has more than 900. There are 13 trailers at the school to address its overcrowding.

"Parents, of course, see the very dire need. You know, you don't want your kid eating lunch at 9:30 in the morning because that's the only way you can get all the kids though the lunch line," said Jan Mees, vice president of CPS Board of Education.

CPS already purchased land from Sinclair Farm, owned by the University of Missouri, in September. It is 63 acres on Sinclair Road near Miller Elementary School. CPS bought it with money from another $30 million bond issue approved by voters in 2016. 

If the board approves the language for the current bond issue, voters will see it on the April ballot.