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Columbus School board won't go 'buy the book'


Edna McGill

Edna McGill



Sarah Fowler



The Columbus Municipal School Board rejected a request of almost $2 million dollars from interim school superintendent Edna McGill, a move that could prevent students from having the proper textbooks for the 2014-15 school year. 


McGill's request included funds for textbook purchases of approximately $506,000, along with funds for technology upgrades, sports facilities and buses. The textbooks request was for math, language arts and phonics for kindergarten-12th grade. 


The board on Tuesday voted 3-2 to deny the request. Board members Currie Fisher and Greg Lewis, along with board president Angela Verdell, voted against the proposal. Board members Jason Spears and Glenn Lautzenhiser voted in favor. 


The district currently has $6,087,324 on hand, according to Deputy Superintendent Craig Shannon. 


Verdell was not available at presstime. 


On Thursday, McGill explained the reason for the request. The district, she said, adopted a new math curriculum last year and needs updated books to implement the course of study, which is aligned with Common Core State Standards. 


New language arts books are needed as well, also because of Common Core standards and Third Grade Reading Gate, McGill said. 


"This is the state adoption year for language arts, therefore language arts books are proposed to be purchased so that teachers can have the books before they go home for the summer and be prepared when school begins in August," she said. 


McGill said the new textbooks are instrumental in the academic success of all students within the district. 


In addition to the textbooks request, McGill also asked for $125,162 for a new baseball and softball practice facility at Columbus High School and $51,705 for a weight room expansion.  


"Athletics provide students opportunities to learn many life skills," McGill said in an email to The Dispatch. "A wide array of sports provide support to the curriculum through motivation, discipline, learning to be a part of a team and a coaching staff that monitors grades and provides incentives to excel and have pride in one's self."  


District administrators also believe four new buses -- three regular size buses and one special education bus -- are needed. Totaling $336,800, McGill said the new buses are a much needed investment.  


"With 12 buses over 12 years old and the need to replace buses on a regular schedule to avoid having to purchase so many at one time, we are recommending that we purchase four buses at this time," McGill said. 


The district also needs an overhaul in technology upgrades, according to McGill and technology coordinator Beth Tippett. The upgrades for each of the district's nine campuses totals $780,051. McGill views the upgrades as a necessity for student growth.  


Because of Common Core, McGill said, "teachers and students are being asked to utilize technology even more for research, project-based learning, online and hard copy, and for the new online assessment known as PARCC, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. 


"The systems must be ready for the transition during the 2014-2015 school year and the assessment in the spring of 2015," she added. 


McGill said the use of online educational programs make tasks more interesting to students. Monitoring the progress of the lowest 25 percent is accomplished more systematically and effectively when it can be done online, she said. 


Wireless access at all of the school was also part of McGill's request. Wireless installation would cost $123,510.  


"Keeping pace with the demand for the use of educational technology that utilizes many wireless devices such as laptops, notebooks and other hand held devices makes the upgrade of the wireless connectivity essential," she said.


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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