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columbia public schools

A police car sits outside a local school.
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The event room in Papadoo’s Soul Food restaurant is particularly busy on Nov. 2 in the afternoon. With plastic forks and napkins in hand, community members stand in line as they eagerly wait to load up their paper plates with fried chicken and fruit salad. 

Once seated at their tables, attendees of the event launch into small talk about school and work life. However, that’s not what they are there to discuss. They are there to brainstorm ways to keep their children safe from violence happening in their schools and neighborhoods.

Columbia Schools Outperform State in the ACT

Oct 30, 2019
Hickman High School
Meiying Wu / KBIA

Columbia schools scored higher than the state average for the 2018-19 ACT, according to results released by the ACT on Wednesday.

The ACT, or the American College Test, is a standardized test which measures students’ performances in English, reading, mathematics and science. Students can then use their scores in the college admission process.

The composite score for the 1,137 Columbia Public Schools students who took the test was 21.1, Michelle Baumstark, district spokesperson, said.

Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Columbia Public Schools officials are celebrating the latest report card from the state, saying it shows improvements in student attendance and schools continuing to hit targets in college and career readiness and graduation rates.

“We are encouraged by our continuing performance and improvement in certain areas,” district spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said.

Substitute Shortage Puts CPS Teachers Under Pressure

Oct 3, 2019
Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Six months after Columbia Public Schools chose a new company to provide substitute teachers, the full-time teachers say the system isn’t working.

Kathy Steinhoff, a Hickman High School teacher and president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, said a lack of substitutes has caused extra stress for teachers. She said she has seen teachers be denied time off for illness or professional development.

Regional stories from the KBIA Newsroom, including: 


Regional stories from the KBIA Newsroom, including: 


Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

A public debate over racial equity in the schools took a personal turn this week as Columbia Public School Chief Equity Officer Carla London sought protective orders against the president of Race Matters, Friends.

In papers filed Monday, London asked for court-ordered protection for herself and her children against Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, a vocal critic of the school district who has called for London’s resignation. London alleges that Wilson-Kleekamp is stalking and harassing London and her children on social media.

Columbia Police Department logo on CPD car
Meiying Wu / KBIA

An internal investigation by Columbia Public Schools has found no violations in the arrest of a black student at Smithton Middle School in January, according to a letter sent to the attorney representing the mother of the student.

The one-page letter sent Friday concluded that board policy was not violated and, therefore, no “corrective action” was recommended.

School District Leaders Describe an 'Intentional Campaign' to Discredit CPS in Email

Sep 16, 2019
Hickman High School
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia school superintendent and school board president sent “a message of support” in a mass email Friday afternoon, responding to what they described as “an intentional effort to discredit, disgrace, and destroy the reputations” of the district.

The email, coauthored by Superintendent Peter Stiepleman and School Board President Helen Wade, was sent out of “a sense of urgency to clarify a particular topic” and to express “empathy and gratitude” toward the district’s employees.

Hickman High School, which is part of Columbia Public Schools
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia Public School district has made recommendations to the Columbia Board of Education for the hiring of two new school principals.

Seth Woods has been recommended to become the principal of Beulah Ralph elementary school. Woods has been the assistant principal at Beulah Ralph since 2015 when the school opened, and is recommended to replace current Principal Tim Majerus who is retiring at the end of this year.

Lawsuit Filed Against Columbia Public Schools for "Bargaining in Bad Faith"

Apr 24, 2019
Hickman High School
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia School Board did not meet the demands of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association during recent negotiations over salary, benefits and other issues, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.

Association President Kathy Steinhoff took the floor at last week’s School Board meeting in an attempt to persuade the board to continue to exclusively bargain with the association as the recognized representative of Columbia Public Schools’ teachers.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia School Board approved a revised version of an attendance area map and a transfer policy Monday night.

The map, known as “option two,” drew concern from a handful of public commenters who said the map had inequity issues. In this version, students eligible for free or reduced lunches rises to 55 percent at Battle High School and lowers to 18 percent at Rock Bridge High School.

Columbia Voters Likely to See $15 Million School Bond Issue in 2020

Feb 8, 2019
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia Public School District is getting ready to ask voters to approve a $15 million, no-tax-increase bond issue in April 2020.

The district’s Finance Committee met jointly with the Long-range Facilities Planning Committee to consider the plan Wednesday.

The district’s financial advisers from Piper Jaffray, Tom Goffoy and Matthew Courtney, said the goal was to avoid an increase in property taxes to service the debt.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Amid a national teacher shortage, a wave of teachers’ strikes last spring spotlighted some of the ongoing problems for the teaching profession, such as low pay and limited classroom resources. On top of that, a recent poll found that for the first time since 1969, just over half of American parents don’t want their children to pursue a teaching career.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits teachers from striking, but just because they aren’t speaking out, doesn’t mean schools here don’t face many of those issues. With some of the lowest teacher salaries in the country, recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is a challenge, said Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner for educator quality at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

As students across Mid-Missouri return to school this week, local advocates are encouraging the community to keep in mind the issue of hunger and adequate nutrition for students.

About half of the students in the Columbia Public Schools district qualify for free or reduced lunches. Many of those students receive food assistance in Buddy Packs – or backpacks that provide meals for kids throughout the weekend. The Buddy Packs are distributed by the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

New Cedar Ridge Elementary School Opens its Doors

Aug 1, 2018

Second-grade teacher Susan Heath gives a tour of Cedar Ridge Elementary School on Tuesday. The new school can hold 600-650 students.

The hallways of Cedar Ridge Elementary School were relatively quiet on Tuesday.

The floors were shiny, lacking any scuff marks from children’s sneakers, and the bulletin boards were plastered with construction paper flowers.

In one kindergarten classroom, a bulletin board was covered with empty paper frames, all reading, “Future masterpiece here.”

De'Vion Moore Named New Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary Principal

Jul 27, 2018

De'Vion Moore will be recommended as the new principal at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Pending approval by the Columbia Public School Board, Moore will replace current principal Michelle Holz, according to a news release from Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for Columbia Public Schools.

Columbia School Board approves budget, discusses suicide prevention policy

Jun 12, 2018
Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Columbia School Board unanimously approved the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget for Columbia Public Schools on Monday night. It will go into effect on July 1.

New Principal Announced at Blue Ridge Elementary School

Feb 28, 2018

Columbia Public Schools announced yesterday that Mark Burlison will be promoted from assistant principal to principal at Blue Ridge Elementary School for the 2018-19 school year.

Burlison taught elementary school for 10 years before becoming an assistant principal three years ago.


Kelly Sports Properties Sues School District over Unpaid Commissions

Feb 26, 2018

A Boone County marketing company is accusing Columbia Public Schools of being cheap.

Kelly Sports Properties is suing the district for $411,625.77 for alleged breach of contract and unpaid and delinquent commissions. Between 2011 and 2016, the company operated as the sole marketing agent for the district’s sports programs under the Missouri State High School Activities Association, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Missourian.

Julia Coggins Chosen as Lee Expressive Arts Principal

Feb 14, 2018

Julia Coggins is the Columbia Public School’s choice for principal at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School in the 2018-19 school year.

Michelle Baumstark, Community Relations Director for Columbia Public Schools, said CPS recommended her to the Board of Education.

Columbia Community Invited to School District Planning Session

Sep 26, 2017
Columbia School Board
KBIA File Photo

Columbia Public Schools is inviting community members to join a discussion Monday evening about its facility plans for the next 10 years. The discussion is meant to help inform the needs, goals and priorities of the district. 

The event will be at 6 p.m. Monday at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 2601 S. Providence Road. Those who wish to attend can RSVP by emailing cpscomm@cps.12.org or calling 214-3960. An event flyer said walk-ins are welcome.

Initial Numbers Show Higher Enrollment in Columbia Public Schools

Aug 16, 2017
Columbia Public Schools

Enrollment in Columbia Public Schools has increased by 294 students since last year.

Columbia Public Schools released preliminary enrollment numbers on Tuesday, which was the first day of the new school year. Total enrollment for all schools was 18,585, according to a news release from Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark.

Columbia Public Schools

Columbia Public Schools has found its chief equity officer for the district.

Carla London will be the chief equity officer after serving as the district’s director of student services.

According to Columbia Public Schools, London has also served as the district’s supervisor for student and family advocacy. London also coordinated the Aspiring Scholars program for secondary schools from 2002 to  2006. Before working in the district, London was a middle school teacher in Texas.

Two Columbia Schools Get New Principals

Apr 26, 2017
Torie Ross / KBIA

Two top administrative vacancies at Columbia Public Schools are now filled for this fall. CPS announced Hickman High School Assistant Principal Tony Gragnani will move up to principal of that school, while Battle High School Assistant Principal Melita Walker will be the new principal at West Middle School.

Gragnani has served as an assistant principal at Hickman since 2014. He says the relationships he’s built during his time there will be important when taking on his new job.

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