CHS graduation date set

Last week’s Columbia School Board meeting saw the board agree to the planned spring graduation date and 2023-24 calendar while they also accepted a notable resignation from the district.

After scheduling was discussed last month, the board signed off on both next year’s calendar and a May 13 graduation date at 6 p.m. to accommodate for a baseball tournament in the morning.

This places Columbia High School graduation on the second Saturday of May with plans to move the event inside given rain, as the following Sunday is Mother’s Day.

Previous graduations have dealt with various changes to account for COVID-19 pandemic precautions, though Columbia Superintendent of Schools Chris Grode said he hopes to return to a more consistent date in the future.

“What we would like is in the future to go to the third Sunday,” Grode said. “We wanna do the third Sunday on a more regular basis, go back to two o’clock with the rain date being inside.”

While the district has a number of vacancies, another was added last week due to the resignation of Mary Beth Babcock, who has served as drama adviser for the high school and middle school for many years.

When asked for comment, Babcock said there wasn’t any particular reason for the resignation beyond “taking stuff off my plate.”

Grode also remarked on the additional vacancy in the district, particularly given Babcock’s years directing well-received plays and musicals in the district.

“It’s big shoes to fill, but I’ve already had people involved in the drama department reach out to me and ask ‘What’s the process? How can I get my information in?’” Grode said. “So, we’ve got people that want to do it.”

Babcock’s final musical for the district was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which concluded this past weekend.

The biggest item on the agenda Thursday was a tax abatement resolution, which would have had the board take $500,000 to pay off current bonds.

Board President Greg Meyer recommended the board not vote on the item. He cited last year’s tax reduction in saying the district has made efforts to keep taxes low while also explaining that, given upcoming projects, getting rid of the current bonds at one percent would likely not be a good idea.

“We’re gonna be doing the high school project. We’re gonna be doing a parking lot, we hope,” Meyer said. “So we’re gonna be re-issuing our bonds. There’s no way we’re gonna get bonds again at one percent like we have now. So basically what we’re doing is we’re paying off a one percent bond and then next year we’re gonna get a bond probably three times as expensive. I think it’s pretty foolish to do it when we know this is coming up.”

The board ultimately decided not to take action on the resolution and the matter died.

Also discussed at the meeting was recent progress toward planned CHS renovations. Grode said discussions with previously-appointed owner representatives Cobalt Construction Consulting have been going well.

“We are almost done with the negotiations with Cobalt,” Grode said. “We are just at the final stages of that, and then we’ll be working with FGM Architects to start the planning process. So we are moving forward on this. It’s just once you get lawyers involved, it starts to move a little slower. We’re in a slow spot right now.”

Grode promptly rescinded the joking jab at lawyers.

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web