"I’d love to get rid of them at all the schools," CPS board member said about classroom trailers -- in 2003
COLUMBIA, 2/23/12  (Beat Byte) --  Classroom trailer elimination was a top Columbia Public Schools priority in 2003; this April, it's a top priority again, as school officials seek $50 million in bond debt and one of the largest property tax hikes in recent memory. 

"The district has about 160 classroom trailers," Deputy Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said in 2004.  "Smithton Middle School has 16 trailer classrooms, Lange Middle School has 12 and Gentry Middle School has 13," the Columbia Tribune reported.  

"We’ve got more mobile home classrooms at the middle-school level than at any of the other schools," then-School Board member Elton Fay said.   "I’d love to get rid of them at all the schools, but right now at the middle schools that’s our biggest concentration."

To help replace trailers in 2004, voters approved $22.5 million in bond debtfollowing like clockwork an every-two-year pattern of escalating bond debt that, if current plans hold, will saddle the district with $220 million more by 2020.    
In 1998 voters approved a $19.9 million bond debt; in 2000, $35 million; in 2002, $23.8 million; and in 2004, $22.5 million.    The pattern skipped a year, then resumed in 2007 and 2010, with voters approving $180 million in bond debt, called the largest such package in state history.

Yet classroom trailers remain.  (Photo from 2010 story).
And until public pressure came to bear after this publication reported an administrative move to renege on air conditioning installation, projects promised for years were reported as "stalled" by the Columbia Daily Tribune and CPS superintendent Chris Belcher. 
To unstall them, district administrators and School Board members raised taxes last August by an amount allowable under state law without a vote.   "Air-conditioning projects initially were part of the 2010 bond issue, but the majority of the first chunk of the bond funds...are going toward costs for Battle High School," Dr. Belcher said at the time.   

That move, of course, broke a long-standing District promise not to raise taxes, but to use bond funds to pay for the projects.