COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia Board of Education's finance committee is recommending the full board approve purchasing air filtration devices that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 along with other pathogens.
The finance committee is met on Wednesday at 4:30 to discuss the devices. This comes as the district has 4 CPS schools back to all-online instruction because of staffing issues related to COVID-19 cases and exposures.
District leaders asked the committee to authorize the purchase of self-cleaning, bi-polar ionization units that would be installed in HVAC units throughout the District. This will now be discussed by the full board.
There was a consensus from the committee that this is an important expense for the district, but there was a lot of discussion about where those funds would come from.
According to the board's agenda, there are two options that will be presented, both over $1 million.
For units that are installed in the 2,435 classrooms across the district, the grand total would be $1,394,500. The district estimates each unit would cost $500, and there is an additional expense to buy 59 RTU's at $3,000 each.
This option would come from the district's operating budget. The district's CFO Heather McArthur said the nearly $1.4 million could come from different budgets, like transportation, that has gone done during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was asked if this would be eligible for CARES act funding. McArthur said it would be, but the district has run out of those funds.
The second option is for portable ionization units, which cost $1,200 per unit, making the total $2,922,000. According to board documents, since the cost of individual units is more than $1,000, it must be purchased from capital funds.
The board's report says there are currently $2,794,978 of uncommitted capital funds, so McArthur said they would have to use every last penny to fund the project.
Both options are being tested by the district to test the effectiveness, the district has already purchased 40 units that are being tested.
During the meeting, the committee favored the first option, but the motion that was passed stipulated that the results from the testing come back satisfactory.
If installed, it would be a phased-in approach and would prioritize older buildings first.
Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said he believes this would be a good long term purchase even after the COVID-19 pandemic, as it would reduce allergens and other pathogens.
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