District combines ballot issues

Columbus City School district board of education members will present two issues combined into one on November’s ballot.

At a regular meeting Aug. 5, board members combined a $164 million bond issue and a 7.85-mill permanent operating levy into one resolution and affirmed the need for the issues.

Board members initially voted to place the two issues on November’s ballot at a special meeting June 27, but it was not determined whether the issues would be combined or presented separately.

The most recent resolutions were a formality for the district in order to place the issues on the ballot.

“It’s a multi-step process to put something on the ballot,” said board member Gary Baker II. “There are a number of different steps that need to be followed, and we’ve already taken some steps.”

Board members also passed a resolution certifying the maximum maturity of bonds, which Dr. Michael Kinneer, chief executive officer of the district, certified Aug. 5.

The resolution, according to Baker, spells out the life span of items the bond will purchase, including buses, books, technology improvement, and building improvements, which the board considers a high priority.

“Most important is to continue the Facilities Master Plan, which will help building new buildings and renovate buildings,” Baker said. “The Westside will continue to benefit. In fact, the Westside has seen more new buildings and renovated buildings so far than any other part of town.”

The $164 million bond issue would have a life span of 24 years and will not cost taxpayers any additional taxes if the district takes advantage of an upcoming reduction in debt service for existing bonds. If voters approve the bond issue, the district will collect on the bond at its current level of 3.9 mills.

If voters pass the 7.85-mill permanent operating levy in November, an owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $240 in taxes per year. The district would receive about $77 million each year if the levy passes.

Uses for the levy monies include the lengthening of the school day by one period, staffing that extra time and helping create four new theme-based schools.

Also at the board meeting, members and the public heard several presentations from various administration, including Elaine Bell, executive director of the Office of Student Assistance, Intervention and Outreach, who spoke of life and work skills of students district-wide.

Bell proposed an action plan to address gaps in life and work skills of students in all grades. The action plan includes developing a district committee to monitor the life and work skills of students.

The committee would identify communication with parents, address resources and barriers preventing students from developing life and work skills, as well as recommend professional development resources to help students learn the skills.

Bell suggested the committee would develop partnerships within the community which would help be a stage for students to display skills.

The committee would work on a three-year plan and develop evaluation projects as well as possibly redesign the academic calendar to set apart days where students could show their skills to peers and teachers.

“We believe that with life and work skills, students are beginning to take control of their instruction,” Bell said.

Board Vice President Carol Perkins commended Bell’s presentation and agreed on the importance of the two skills. She recalled meeting with another board member and several business officials about education and the qualities they looked for when hiring high school graduates.

“We asked them three top qualities they look for,” Perkins said. “The top one was critical thinking skills. The others were work ethic and manners.”

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