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Columbus School District

COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Columbus School District students will need to return to classes following their Memorial Day break to make up some of the lost school hours from the weather this year.

The make-up days will be on May 28 and 29.

The school board made the decision Monday, with the hope there are no more school cancellations the rest of the year.

In addition to making up some of the lost school days by adding the extra two days at the end of the school year, the board also approved moving an in-service day on Apr. 10 back to a full school day and dropping early outs on Wednesdays beginning Mar. 20.

Officials said those actions, together with an earlier decision to hold classes during other in-service days, would restore the 53 hours missed this winter. Although the plan would not leave any wiggle room for any other missed days, it could meet some parents' concerns about extending the last day of school into later in the year.

Board president Bob Schwab said parents who had talked with him had urged ending school as close to the May 24 original date as possible.

“Parents want kids out before Memorial Day,” he said before casting the single vote against extending the school year past Memorial Day.

Board member Andy White said parents who had contacted him had said the same thing, but he voted in support of the extension. He did cast the lone vote against dropping the early Wednesday outs.

Suggestions to use some of the Easter break vacation and adding time to student school days failed to gain traction with a majority of board members, who agreed it could cause disruptions to schedules and activities that had been previously planned.

In addition to restoring the lost student hours, the board also agreed to add 30 minutes to each teacher day beginning March 20 to recover their lost days.

Graduating seniors will not be affected by the board’s weather vacation decisions. It approved a motion forgiving the seniors from having to make up the hours missed.

Meanwhile, in other calendar decisions, the board approved a fiscal 2020 calendar that will have school beginning on Aug. 23, with the last student day set for May 22. A spring break is scheduled for March 16-17, with a two-day Easter break. The calendar would have 36.5 hours of late start/snow time built in.

White and board member Maria Gomez opposed the calendar, while Schwab and board members Eric Totemeier and Wayne Finke supported it.

In other action, the board approved a preliminary fiscal 2020 budget for publication. The proposal calls for total expenditures and other requirements of $18,119,262, with matching total revenue and other resources. Total spending is projected to be $11,786,321, while the total revenue forecast is $11,438,765.

The proposed budget’s tax rate of around $13.34 per $1,000 taxable valuation would be about 4 cents below the current rate. A March 25 public hearing on the budget was also set.

In final action during the meeting, the board:

• Approved a five-year track plan, calling for $35,000 annually to repair and upgrade the track and adjacent athletic facilities.

• Authorized Superintendent Gary Benda to move forward with contacting potential members of a proposed pool committee.

• Agreed on a 3-2 vote, with Finke and Schwab opposed, to naming Acumen Insurance, Cedar Rapids, as the agent of record for the school’s health, life and disability insurance.

• Held a closed session for quarterly review of superintendent/district goals.

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