Official Life: City Government
A Columbia police officer at work
How many people sit on the county commission? Which department do you need to call for the story you’re doing on that caldera-sized pothole on College Ave.? Here’s where you’ll find descriptions of how officials in Columbia and Boone County work, along with links to key Web sites that have even more information. Also, look here for detailed descriptions of the city’s top employers, including the University of Missouri.
What you won’t find in this section are the names of the people playing important roles in officialdom. For that, check the People page, which will be updated frequently as the roster of players changes.
- General Links
- City Web Site www.gocolumbiamo.com
- City Budget Information www.gocolumbiamo.com/Finance/Services/Financial_Reports/index.html
- City Code of Ordinances www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Columbia_Code_of_Ordinances/
- How and Where to Get Official Records Locally www.missouri.edu/~foiwww/access/
- The Basics
- Columbia operates with a council-manager form of government. Under this set-up, the seven-member City Council, of which the mayor is a member, establishes law and policy; it is the highest authority in city government. The city manager (who is NOT the mayor or a councilperson) and those he/she supervises are responsible for carrying out the day-to-day functions of the city.The city has six wards (a ward is simply a division for administrative and electoral purposes; see the city’s map to help visualize where Columbia’s wards are). Each ward elects one representative to the council for a three-year term. The whole city elects the mayor, also for a three-year term. Council candidates are nominated by petition. The City Council appoints the city manager.
The City Council holds regular meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month. The meetings take place in the Council Chambers of the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway, a quick walk from the Missourian newsroom. To go to a calendar of Council meeting dates and to view agendas for upcoming meetings go to www.gocolumbiamo.com/Public_Comm/Public_Information/meetings.html. There, you’ll also find links to minutes of past meetings and meetings of other boards and commissions.
- Other Boards and Commissions
- The city’s more than 30 boards and commissions, answerable to the City Council, are made up in part of volunteer Columbia residents; each board and commission has specific prerequisites for membership. The role of these boards, to generalize a bit, is to serve as expert advisers to the council on the matters under their purview and make decisions and/or recommendations.As an example, take the Planning & Zoning Commission, which figures frequently in the news. This nine-member group, whose ranks include the city’s director of public works, is responsible for preparing, adopting and submitting to the council a development plan for the city; for making recommendations for interpretation of plans; for acting as a zoning commission (that is, deciding how parcels of land may be used); for preparing rules governing subdivision of land; for recommending that the council approve or disapprove plats for subdivision; and for recommending legislation to further city planning. The City Council can accept or reject the commission’s recommendations.
For a complete list of and more information on the boards and commissions and their meeting times, see www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Services/Commissions/.
- City Manager
- You already know that the city manager is appointed by the council. This person is responsible for the general administration of the city, program coordination and development, preparation of City Council agendas, special staff reports, annual budget, and an annual statement of city programs and priorities. The city manager, sometimes directly but more often through his subordinates, is also responsible for hiring all officers and employees of the city except for the city clerk and municipal judge (the clerk and judge are answerable to the council). Think of the city manager as the city’s CEO, the person who runs things. The city manager’s office is found on the fifth floor of the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.To get an idea of the operation run by the city manager and his/her office in Columbia, look at this link to a city organizational chart. Here is where youÍll find all the traditional operations of the city, including the police and fire chiefs, the parks and recreation director, the public works director, the finance director, the public health department and others. To get addresses and other general information about these key departments, visit www.gocolumbiamo.com/city_hall.html and scroll to the bottom for the Departments list. Some departments that frequently figure in the news, such as the police department, will be described in more detail below.
- City Clerk
- The city clerk answers to the council and, in a nutshell, is responsible for paperwork: the documenting and retaining of all legal affidavits, records, and files of the city. Don’t mix up the city and county clerks (the county clerk’s duties are described in the county section below).
- Municipal Judge
- The Municipal Judge administers Municipal Court. The city’s Municipal Court is a division of the Circuit Court, Boone County, 13th Judicial Circuit (see the county section below). Cases in Municipal Court involve alleged violations of City of Columbia laws (think parking tickets, among other things). The court is located at 600 E. Broadway. For more information go to www.gocolumbiamo.com/Court/.
- Public Information
- Like all governments, the Columbia city government has a public relations operation. Here it is called the Public Communications Department. A lot of the stuff that comes out of this department in the form of press releases and announcements will be useless to you as a reporter; Columbia, like all cities, likes to promote events that may be nice but aren’t news. But you should still sign up for the e-mail press release service. Occasionally these events will be news and more often they will at least be good chances to meet people in the community you may otherwise not encounter. To subscribe, go to www.gocolumbiamo.com/Web_Mail/index.php, which also will give you the option to subscribe via e-mail to meeting agendas, departmental newsletters and other sometimes helpful publications. The Public Communications home page (www.gocolumbiamo.com/Public_Comm/) will also yield some helpful links, including budget information and city holidays (that is, days where you won’t be able to reach city workers unless you’ve gotten their cell or home numbers). You can also sign up for tours of city facilities, not a bad idea if you’re going to be dealing all year with one or more city departments on your beat.If you page through the press releases, you’ll note that most of them give contact numbers for the relevant department but don’t tell you whom to ask for. The more substantive ones will give you a name as well as a number (and sometimes you’ll get two names, a “communications specialist” (PR person) and a contact within the specific department the release is dealing with). Obviously it’s even better if you’re well-sourced enough in the department to know yourself whom to call.
- The Police Department
- One of the more important departments for reporters, the police department comes up again and again in city desk stories. There’s not a lot of useful deadline-type information on the Web site (www.gocolumbiamo.com/Police/), but under the links on the main page there are phone numbers, city crime stats, and budget information. There also is a helpful link to the current breakdown of beat cops and their district sergeants (with names!) as well as special teams and investigative units such as the Major Crimes Unit and others at www.gocolumbiamo.com/Police/Department/. The police station is located at 600 E. Walnut. The front desk number, 874-7652, is answered 24/7. For records requests and statistical information, call 874-7421. For police reports call 874-7419. See the People page for names of the current police chief and other police sources you’ll need to get to know.The police department puts out its own media releases describing specific incidents. These releases usually contain a contact name, often for the police commander in whose district the incident occurred.
Police officers with neighborhood beats or assignments to community- and neighborhood-based programs such as CPD’s Community Action Team (www.gocolumbiamo.com/Police/Department/CAT/cat_overview.html) and Crime Free Programs (http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Police/Programs/Crime_Free/index.html) can also be good sources for other kinds of stories. They’re busy, so it can be hard to catch them, but the pay-off for getting to know them is that they often know the neighborhoods quite well and can point to private residents whom it would otherwise be difficult to meet and cultivate as sources.
Columbia’s police have a union, the Columbia Police Officers Association (www.columbiapolice.org).
- The Columbia Fire Department
- The fire department also comes up frequently in city desk stories. Most of what you’ll find on Columbia’s department’s site (www.gocolumbiamo.com/Fire/) is public service announcements and the like (not a lot of names). There is a list of the city’s eight fire stations, with addresses (www.gocolumbiamo.com/Fire/About_Us/stations.html). Fire department headquarters are located at 201 Orr St., off of Walnut on the north side of downtown. The fire department’s training academy is located at 700 Big Bear Boulevard. See the People section for names of the current fire chief and other fire sources you’ll need to get to know.
- The Public Works Department
- The public works department handles all the city’s streets and sidewalks (and other engineering projects), the airport (located south of town east of Hwy 63), traffic issues and sewers¿all things that can raise citizen ire when they don’t work properly. Good information on current projects can be found at www.gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/ along with a more detailed organizational chart of the department (no names here).One especially important area under public works (for Columbia and most cities) is transportation. Columbia has a bus system that city officials have upgraded and worked hard to promote as the city has gotten more crowded. You can link to transportation information from the main public works site above or from the main city page, using the Transportation link on the left. The bus system’s link is www.gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/Transportation/transit.html; you’ll find route maps and schedules there. The system is headquartered at Wabash Station (which in the past was a train station in Columbia) at 10th St. and Ash St. downtown.
The city’s landfill, at 5700 Peabody Road (north of town off Route B and Brown Station Road), is also under the management of the public works department.
- The Water and Light Department and Utilities in Columbia
- Utility stories aren’t likely to wipe that bored look off your editor’s face. But occasionally a good one will arise (for instance, if prices skyrocket for gas or electricity) and you’ll need to know how Columbia’s utilities work. Water and electricity for the city are run by the city (see www.gocolumbiamo.com/WaterandLight/, which is a very consumer-oriented site as opposed to a reporter-oriented one), and gas is run by AmerenUE, a St. Louis-based for-profit company (www.ameren.com/ABOUTUS/ADC_AU_FactSheet.pdf; see also their Media Contact list). (For Boone County residents not in Columbia, the situation is a little different; see the Boone County section below.)
- Parks and Recreation
- Columbia is an outdoorsy city crisscrossed by trails and dotted with parks. Among the popular trails in the city are the MKT Trail, a converted railroad corridor that ultimately connects up with the state’s larger Katy Trail (the city’s section is about five miles, with Boone County administering another four or so) and the Bear Creek Trail (a 4.8 mile trail connecting Cosmopolitan Park and Albert-Oakland Park). Among the notable parks are Cosmopolitan Park, a 533-acre park north of I-70 on the west side of the city, and Grindstone Nature Area, 199 acres of trails and forest found just south of Stadium Blvd. off Rock Quarry Road.The city is also proud of its Activity & Recreation Center (known as the ARC), a facility that opened in December 2002 on the site of the county’s old fairgrounds at 1701 W. Ash. The ARC houses fitness equipment, a gymnasium and an “aquatic center” and hosts lots of fitness activities open (for a fee, of course) to all Columbia citizens.
Recreational issues come up frequently in the news in Columbia. One group that’s been a force behind trails and other pedestrian corridors in Columbia is the PedNet Coalition (www.pednet.org).
The Parks and Recreation Department’s site is actually quite good (www.gocolumbiamo.com/ParksandRec/index.html); you’ll find maps, stats and other good information about specific parks, trails and other department areas there.
- General Links
- County Web site www.showmeboone.comFor a complete list of current county department heads, their office addresses and phone numbers click the “County Officials” link on the left side of the above homepage.
- County Budget www.showmeboone.com/Budget%202005/Default.htm
- Boone County Vision www.boonecountyvision.missouri.eduFor names and numbers of people working on getting greater city-county collaboration.
- The Basics
- Boone County, of which Columbia is the county seat, has its own government and agencies providing various services to residents. Shaped roughly like the state of Illinois, Boone County’s 685 square miles sit almost dead center in the state. There are numerous small towns in the county:
- Ashland and Hartsburg in the south
- Rocheport in the west
- Hallsville and Centralia in the north
Seven counties border Boone:
- Cole (home of the state capital, Jefferson City)
- Moniteau (pronounced Mahn-i-taw)
Boone County government is less hierarchical than the city government, with more elected officials running departments. The most centralized elected governing body in the county is the Boone County Commission. The commission has three members, one for the Southern District, one for the Northern District, and a County Presiding Commissioner. The commission establishes policies, approves budgets and works with the county advisory boards and commissions. Meetings are held in the Roger B. Wilson County Government Center, 801 E. Walnut, in Columbia. For a schedule of meetings involving the commission, go to www.showmeboone.com/COMMISSION/.
- Other Boards and Commissions
- The County Commission oversees numerous other boards and commissions, each responsible for a certain function of county government. Each board and commission is made up of a designated number of people, including one of the three county commissioners and sometimes other county officials and employees (for example, the library director serves on the Library Board). The boards and commissions, like the county commission itself, have designated meeting times. See the commission site above for descriptions of the individual boards and commissions and to get information on who is on them and their meeting times. Among the notable boards and commissions is the county Planning and Zoning Commission (charged with overseeing development issues in the county outside Columbia).
- The County Clerk
- If you cover elections in the area at all, you’ll get to know this office very well. Ditto if you cover the county commission. The county clerk is an elected official who is responsible for keeping accurate records of the orders, rules, and proceedings of the county commission. He or she also is responsible for inspecting and reviewing all voter precinct boundaries in the county and for conducting elections. The county clerk is the chief elections official in Boone County; don’t confuse it with the county court clerk, which is an entirely separate office.Here is some of the useful information that can be found on the county clerk’s Web site (www.showmeboone.com/CLERK/):
- Minutes of county commission meetings
- Agendas for upcoming county commission meetings
- A list of polling locations for elections in Boone County
- Information on who is eligible to vote in the county and how they should go about registering
- Past election results and information on upcoming elections
- The Boone County Court and the Prosecuting Attorney
- Missouri’s counties and the city of St. Louis are organized into forty-five court jurisdictions called judicial circuits. Civil and criminal cases in Missouri usually begin in the circuit court. Boone County is part of Circuit 13, which also includes Callaway County. There are various divisions within the circuit court, such as associate circuit, small claims, municipal (this is where Columbia’s city court fits in), family, probate, criminal, and juvenile. Circuit judges and associate circuit judges are elected; the former serve six-year terms, the latter four-year terms. The Boone County Courthouse at 705 E. Walnut is located in downtown Columbia next to the county building.For more information on currently serving judges and other 13th Circuit employees, as well as information on how the circuit courts fit into the overall Missouri court system, go to www.osca.state.mo.us.
Boone County has an elected prosecuting attorney. The attorney is responsible for the enforcement of state criminal law and child support enforcement within the borders of the county. The office consists of several assistant prosecutors, investigators, a victim response unit, a child support unit, a bad check unit and a delinquent tax unit together with clerical staff. The prosecuting attorney’s Web site (www.showmeboone.com/PA/) does not include a staff listing, but it does have a main contact phone number and the biography of the current prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney’s office is at 701 E. Walnut.
- The Boone County Sheriff’s Department
- The county has its own police force, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff is an elected official. The department’s duties include patrolling the county’s 684 square miles, responding to calls from residents of the county and investigating reported crimes. The sheriff is also responsible for serving all criminal warrants and civil process papers issued to his department from the county’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court.The headquarters of the sheriff’s department and the Boone County Jail are located north of Columbia off of Highway 63, at 2121 County Dr., near the Boone County Fairgrounds (you’ll need a car to get out there, unlike with most of the city offices). The front desk phone number is 875-1111.
The sheriff’s department’s Web site (www.showmeboone.com/SHERIFF) is full of useful information (though again most of it is not deadline-type information):
- Lists of arrests current through 7 am on the day you’re checking
- A list of current inmates at the Boone County Jail
- A list of outstanding felony warrants
- A list of all Boone County sheriffs and their terms of service through the present time
- A list of Boone County’s registered sex offenders, which you can search by name or address
- Somewhat dated statistical reports for sheriff’s department operations (includes information like number of rapes in a given month, number of miles traveled, etc.) and for correctional activities (number of inmates booked in a given day, etc.)
To get information, you should just call the main line and ask to speak to someone about the case in question. This is also true on weekends.
- Boone County Fire Protection District
- The county has its own fire department, the third largest in the state. It is staffed by about 300 volunteer firefighters and, according to its informative Web site (www.bcfdmo.com), is the largest volunteer fire department in the U.S. It covers 532 square miles. The fire district is not part of county government but is instead a subdivision of the state. The district is governed by a three-member board elected by area voters. Funding comes from property taxes on the district’s property owners. The Fire District is designated by FEMA as one of only 28 Federal Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces in the nation, through a cooperative effort between the State of Missouri and the Boone County Fire Protection District. Due to this designation, Missouri Task Force 1 is on call for federal disaster response and, upon activation, must be on military aircraft within six hours with 62 personnel, four search dogs and 60,000 lbs. of equipment. Headquarters are at 2201 I-70 Drive NW; for addresses of individual stations, go to the Web site and look under Contact Us.
- Boone Electric Cooperative
- You already know that the City of Columbia provides electricity service to city residents. In Boone County (and in portions of five neighboring counties as well), residents go to the non-profit Boone Electric Cooperative (www.booneelectric.com) for electricity. Boone Electric members own the co-op (this is generally part of the definition of a “cooperative”) and elect a board of directors to make decisions about the cooperative’s business. The cooperative also runs a satellite television operation.BEC publishes several newsletters for members and provides other “community” services. The newsletters are worth a skim every now and then; they can give you an idea of what the area’s more rural residents are up to (for instance, the April 2005 issue of “Member Contact” contains a profile of a man who raises camels and other exotic livestock and announces a photo contest for BEC members). Also, see www.ruralmissouri.org for information about Rural Missouri magazine, which goes to members of BEC as well as members of the state’s other electric cooperatives.
- The County Auditor
- The auditor’s office is the county’s accounting and budget operation. The office prepares the county’s official financial statements and the annual budget, which must be approved by the county commission before it is official. The auditor is an elected official with a four-year term. This office also maintains property records for the county. The auditor’s office is located in the county building on Walnut and can be reached at 886-4275.For more information, including specific reports, go to www.showmeboone.com/Auditor/Default.htm.
- The County Collector and the County Assessor
- The county’s operations are funded largely through property taxes. The collector’s office is responsible for (you guessed it) collecting these taxes from those who owe them, while the assessor’s office is responsible for developing and maintaining a current list of all taxable property in Boone County and assessing the value of that property annually. You can access these departments’ pages from the county’s main site.
In addition to the municipal court’s connection with the circuit court, city and county governments overlap and work together in other ways (though some officials from both sides might say they don’t interact as well as they should). Here is a list of some of those interactions:
- The city notifies the county of all requests for voluntary annexation and sometimes seeks input from the county commission on these requests. They also have a jointly appointed Stormwater Task Force that is working to develop a set of stormwater management regulations that would apply both in the city and the county.
- The Columbia¿Boone County Health Department and the Columbia¿Boone County Board of Health are probably the best example of the two governments working together. The Health Department director answers to both the City Council and to the county commission. Both governments contribute to the health department’s budget, and they share ownership of the Sanford¿Kimpton Building, the health department’s new location at West Boulevard and Worley Street.
- The City Council and the county commission each appoint members to both the Energy and Environment Commission and to the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission. E&E does just what its title would suggest: it advises the council and commission on matters involving energy and the environment. The BCCSAC issues recommendations each year for how the city and the county ought to distribute grants to local social services agencies.
- County commissioners tell us that there has been a lot of improvement in cooperation between the city and county regarding planning for growth on the urban fringe. City and county planning officials routinely get together to discuss pending developments and their potential impact on infrastructure, mainly roads and sewer.
- General Links
- The Basics
- As students/employees, you already know something about the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU). But how does MU, founded in 1839 as the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River, fit into the context of Columbia, Boone County, the state and its own complicated system of governance?
- MU: Background
- MU is by far Columbia’s largest employer (nearly 12,000 people work there, not counting those who work at University Hospitals, discussed in the next section). And the students, professors and administrators who live and work at MU (not to mention all the visitors who arrive daily and the research conducted there) have made a cultural mark on Columbia that sets it apart from almost any other mid-sized Missouri town.MU is a “land-grant university.” This term goes back to President Lincoln, who in 1862 signed the Morrill Act providing for the donation of public land to the individual states. Funds from the sale of these “land grants” were to be used to create institutions to teach agriculture and the mechanic arts. Before the Morrill Act, MU consisted only of what is now the College of Arts and Sciences. Some states that already had universities built new schools, such as Kansas State and Michigan State universities, to carry out the land-grant mission. Missourians chose instead to apply the funds to the existing state university by establishing the College of Agriculture on the Columbia campus and a new School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla. At MU, this decision effectively created two universities in one: a land-grant institution and an intellectual center to advance liberal arts scholarship. After the Morrill Act, subsequent legislation in the early 20th century provided more support for land-grant universities and mandated that they share their knowledge with the public¿the underpinnings of University of Missouri Extension, headquartered at MU.
Today, enrollment at MU counts more than 20,000 undergraduate students and more than 6,000 graduate and professional students, according to Fall 2004 statistics on the Web site. These students are enrolled in MU’s 20 schools and colleges and its more than 275 degree programs. The main campus covers 1,358 acres; MU’s total acreage is 18,021.
- The UM System
- But there’s more to the University of Missouri than “Mizzou,” the campus in Columbia. MU is one of four campuses in the University of Missouri System; the other three are in Rolla (founded in 1870 after the Morrill Act as noted above), Kansas City (chartered in 1929 and opened in 1933), and St. Louis (founded in 1964). Taken together, the four campuses have more than 62,000 students. Though the system is a state institution, less than half of its requested fiscal year 2006 budget of $1.2 billion was projected to come from state funds. Like all state agencies, the university has been dealing with a state legislature that is more and more strapped for money. (See the budget page of the system Web site for more information on the current budget.)A nine-member Board of Curators governs the university system. Curators are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Missouri Senate. The board selects the president of the university system. Each of the four campuses is headed by a chancellor, who reports to the president. All administrative offices on each campus, in turn, answer to the chancellor’s office. An organization chart of these offices at MU and the names of the current officeholders can be found at www.missouri.edu/%7Eir/pages/charts/chancellor.pdf.
- The MU Faculty Council
- A powerful campus organization is the MU Faculty Council (facultycouncil.missouri.edu). The council is an elected group and represents MU’s faculty to the university administration and to the public. University officials regularly consult with Faculty Council or its representatives¿the executive committee and council chair. Reporters, too, often contact the council to get the faculty’s perspective on issues facing the university. The faculty council meets on alternating Thursdays (usually second and fourth) at 3:30 p.m. in room S203 of the MU Memorial Union. Meetings are open to the public.
- MU Police
- MU also has its own police force (www.mupolice.com). They patrol campus and investigate crimes committed there.
- University Hospitals (www.muhealth.org)
- The University of Missouri Health Care system is one of three major health-care systems in Columbia and, with 4,300 employees, the city’s second-largest employer after the university itself. It is made up of five hospitals and numerous clinics and participates in education and research as well as the usual functions of a medical system. The system’s five hospitals are:
- University Hospital (located at One Hospital Drive on the south side of campus; www.muhealth.org/~hospital/)
- Children’s Hospital (also at One Hospital Drive; www.muhealth.org/~children/)
- Ellis Fischel Cancer Center (located at 115 Business Loop 70 West; www.muhealth.org/~ellisfischel/)
- Columbia Regional Hospital (located at 404 Keene St.; www.muhealth.org/~columbiaregional/)
- Missouri Rehabilitation Center (located in Mt. Vernon, MO, near Interstate 44 between Springfield and Joplin; www.muhealth.org/~rehab/)
MU Health Care’s top official is the chief executive officer. Under him are the heads of the three major divisions of MU Health: the director of University Hospitals & Clinics, the chairperson of University Physicians and the dean of the School of Medicine. Each hospital has a director (an administrative official who run the “business” side of the hospital; some hospitals in the MU system share a director) and a chief of staff (a medical doctor who oversees the “medical” personnel side of the hospital; some hospitals in the system also share chiefs of staff). University Physicians and the School of Medicine have their own administrative structure under the chairperson and the dean, respectively. The medical, nursing and health professions schools are not part of MU Health; instead, they are academic partners. The names of many of the officials in all three divisions are available via the main Web site above (some of them are also listed on the People page.
MU Health Care has a media relations department (www.muhealth.org/news/www/index.shtml). Their Web site lists the names of the current PR folks for the system, as well as their phone numbers and email addresses. There is also an index of archived news releases and a link to news sources (including the Missourian) that have carried stories about the system.
Other useful information on the main site includes:
- Research (www.muhealth.org/~research/), where you can find out about current research, grants, etc. (these sometimes make interesting news stories)
- Links to the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and the School of Health Professions, which offers degree programs in areas like imaging science, diagnostic and rehabilitative professions that require education and clinical training for certification or licensing.
- Columbia Public Schools (www.columbia.k12.mo.us)
- The third largest employer in Columbia is Columbia Public Schools. It includes 19 elementary schools, three middle schools, three junior high schools, three high schools, and the Columbia Area Career Center and is the 10th-largest school district in the state. As public schools go, Columbia’s are fairly successful. According to the Web site, 80 to 90 percent of Columbia students extend their education beyond high school. More than 30 percent of Columbia graduates earn the College Preparatory Studies Certificate, and more than 70 percent attend a college or university.Nonetheless, issues of performance gaps and parent apathy have plagued some schools in the Columbia Public Schools system just as they have other school systems. One elementary school, West Boulevard, for example, was made the centerpiece of an experiment designating it a “model school” after 82 of its low-income students scored in the lowest two categories on Missouri Assessment Program tests (a communication arts test for third graders). About 80 percent of the school’s students qualify for free or lower-priced lunches, and African-Americans make up more than half of the student body. As of June 2005, the model school experiment was reporting some progress. But such issues will continue to arise for the school district as the city changes, diversifies and grows.
The headquarters for Columbia Public Schools are at 1818 W. Worley St. An organization chart for the system can be found at www.columbia.k12.mo.us/board/orgchart.pdf. A seven-member Board of Education oversees the administration of the school system, headed by the superintendent.
The Web site links to sites for the individual schools in the system as well as statistics and press releases and statements.
- Boone Hospital Center (www.boone.org)
- Boone Hospital Center, Columbia’s fourth-largest employer with about 2,000 employees, is a 375-bed hospital located at 1600 E. Broadway, at the corner of Broadway and William Street, northeast of the MU campus. It is a member of St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare, a health management company (HMO) (www.bjc.org). The roots of this arrangement lie in the 1980s, when the board of trustees of Boone Hospital, then owned and administered by Boone County, decided that the hospital needed to privatize in order to compete. In the end, the county maintained ownership of the plant and property (which has since expanded across Broadway through land purchases and the addition of new medical clinics and facilities) but leased the operation of the hospital to what eventually became BJC (BJC is itself the result of the merger of several St. Louis-area hospitals).Under BJC’s auspices, the hospital is overseen by a five-member Board of Trustees, which meets every month at 4:30 pm in Broadway Medical Plaza 3, Large Conference Room (see www.boone.org/bhc/?booneorg=/bhc/cms/1/info/trustees.html for a meeting schedule, agendas of past meetings and the names of current board members). Answering to the board is the hospital’s administration, headed by the president and senior executive officer. (See www.boone.org/bhc/?booneorg=/bhc/cms/1/info/admin.html for a list of current administrators).
- Other Large Employers
- In addition to those described above, the list of the top 10 large employers in Columbia also includes:
- The City of Columbia
- The State of Missouri (www.state.mo.us)
- MBS Textbook Exchange (www.mbsbooks.com): A wholesale textbook distribution company (in other words, they sell new and used books to university bookstores like MU’s); they are located at 2711 W. Ash, near Famous Barr department store and Wal-Mart
- Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital (run by the federal Veterans Affairs department; www.va.gov: Search under “Health” for a list of hospitals; provides only basic information)¿located at 800 Hospital Drive, near many of University Hospitals’ facilities
- Shelter Insurance Companies (www.shelterinsurance.com): Based in Columbia, Shelter offers traditional insurance in 13 states, most of them contiguous with Missouri; its offices are at 1817 West Broadway, near the Broadway and Stadium intersection.
- State Farm Insurance Companies (www.statefarm.com): This bigger insurance company, based in Bloomington, Ill., has its “Missouri Operations Center” in south Columbia at 4700 S. Providence Road.
- Stephens College and Columbia College
- Stephens College, a still mostly-women’s institution located at the intersection of Broadway and College, has recently been fine-tuning its focus on historic strengths in the fine arts and the preparation of women for careers after college life. Men are admitted only to its theater program, one of the most prestigious in the country. See www.stephens.edu for more information and contacts.
- Columbia College, whose campus is located on Rogers Street north of downtown, has shifted its focus to non-traditional and online students. College officials report that it is in its best financial shape in years. See www.ccis.edu.