July 9, 2014 10:52:25 AM
The Columbus City Council and members of the Columbus Municipal School Board met Tuesday night to discuss the school district's operations and finances.
The meeting, which lasted approximately an hour-and-a half, took place at Brandon Central Office. Ward 6 councilman Bill Gavin and Interim Superintendent Edna McGill were absent from the meeting. Mayor Robert Smith left 30 minutes into the meeting for a prior commitment.
During the meeting, city council members asked the board what they could do to help the district improve.
Board members offered varying suggestions, but they each asked city council members to be supportive of the district as a whole.
Board member Glenn Lautzenhiser said he hoped board members would encourage parents to get involved in student activities, especially when it comes to reading to their children.
"Literacy is key to student achievement," he said.
Mayor Smith then moved the conversation to the school district's budget. Smith asked CMSD Chief Financial Officer Tammy McGarr if a millage increase would be required to fund the district's budget for fiscal year 2014-15 school year.
McGarr informed Smith and the council that there would not be a millage increase and noted that the district's budget request for the 2014-2015 FY is $195,438 less than FY 2013-2014. The budget worksheet shown to the council, which represents funds the district will request from Lowndes County Tax Assessor Greg Andrews, is slightly more than $13 million.
Board member Jason Spears added that in FY 2015-2016, the district hopes to request approximately $850,000 less than this year's request. Spears then asked Smith if that savings would be passed down to the taxpayers in the form of decreased taxes.
Smith responded that taxes would decrease if the district's budget decreases.
The board also discussed the Magnolia Bowl. Ward 3 councilman Kabir Karriem asked board members if they would ever consider donating Magnolia Bowl to the city.
Spears noted the property is located on 16th Section land and board attorney David Dunn said there are some legalities in dealing with 16th section land. Smith then said the environmental studies conducted on the site should be completed by Aug 14. The results of those studies are expected to shed light on possible uses for the Bowl.
After the meeting adjourned, both parties said having open lines between the two bodies are key.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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