Columbia School Board talks finances, new school year

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The Columbia Board of Education hosted a new faculty and staff meet and greet before their meeting Thursday. From left are Nicolle Nolte, Lisa Fallon, Matt Kendall, Ryan Hampton and Eileen Jensen, who are all new to the school district this year. (Robyn Dexter photo)

The Columbia Board of Education continued discussion on their Perandoe withdrawal, along with looking at what’s ahead for the district this school year at their meeting Thursday.

As a voting member of the Perandoe Special Education District, they had to approve their petition to withdraw.

Columbia has been met with some disapproval in the process, with five of the nine district superintendents voting against their withdrawal.

“I asked them why they voted no, and their responses were largely about fear of the unknown,” superintendent Gina Segobiano said. “They recognize that the Columbia school district pays about $100,000 more than the services we receive.”

Segobiano said she was not expecting to get all nine district approvals, and she knows they will have to move forward and appeal to the regional board of trustees.

“We’re going to pursue this and work hard to get everything done so we can plan for next year,” Segobiano said.

Board president Karen Anderson reported that though overall enrollment is down by 10 students, they are up 45 students at the high school.

“That freshmen class bubble is still working through,” she said. “Our first, second and third grade classes are much smaller, however.”

Assistant superintendent Beth Horner reported the addition of a D.A.R.E. extension program that will target CHS sophomores.

“Starting in October, we will have (Columbia police) officer Jason Donjon coming to our 10th grade health classes to do groups of presentations on meth and crack cocaine, alcohol and marijuana, heroin and prescription pills,” Horner said. “He will talk about what he’s seen and how he’s watched people go down the wrong path, along with bringing in speakers who are recovering addicts.”

All board members agreed that sophomore year is a very critical age for the students, and they are looking forward to hearing feedback on the program.

Segobiano gave a report on the greenhouse and multi-purpose field projects, saying she is “very proud” with how everything is coming along.

“We were able to acquire two outstanding facility improvements with the help of our community,” she said. “Both projects resulted in at least one-third of the entire project being funded from donations and grants. You just don’t see that in this day and age when the economy’s so bad.”

Segobiano said the entire cost of the greenhouse was $180,000, and the Agri Science Association paid for $60,000 through grants and cash crops.

The multi-purpose field, built in 2012, cost $689,000.

Team Up For Turf, the district’s capital campaign group that donates monetary pledges, ended up raising $323,900 toward the cost.

“This is the year we’re going to finish paying off our debt to Columbia National Bank,” Segobiano said.

Over three years, the school district contributed $365,000 through the district’s lease levy.

“That amount paid for the CNB loan,” she said. “I’m thrilled to present this all to you.”

The board approved the 2014-2015 budget public display, and established 7 p.m. Sept. 25 as the date for the budget hearing.

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