But only low-income customers will benefit
At 3% per month, the late fees generate a rough annual return of 36%.
A balloon at heights well above jet airliners reportedly sent by Chinese officials to spy on the United States drifted over Columbia, Missouri today.
The photos show the balloon over the Old Southwest neighborhood at around 1:45 pm CST. The weather was clear and the white balloon was clearly visible. A round, solid white orb, the balloon is distinct from lower-flying hot air balloons that frequent Columbia skies.
Columbia Public Schools superintendent Brian Yearwood has apologized for his response to the controversy that erupted after grade school students attended a drag show at the Columbia Values Diversity breakfast last month.
The performance -- tame by most measures -- nonetheless went undisclosed on field trip permission slips sent to parents for signatures.
"For some, the city’s event demonstrated the importance of inclusion. For others, expectations were not met, specifically regarding the level of communication provided to parents," Yearwood wrote in a Feb. 1 letter. "Either way, it has created frustration for many. I want to apologize to parents and our community for that frustration."
Yearwood addressed not only the local, but statewide and even national levels the controversy reached.
"I recognize there continues to be strong feelings related to the performance at the breakfast and the
communication related to the performance," he wrote. "I also recognize those feelings extend beyond just our schools and our community.
Yearwood reassured parents who have felt marginalized by what they consider a long-term gap in school district transparency aided by school board measures to reduce public commentary.
"I also want to reiterate that Columbia Public Schools values the role the public plays in our decision-making process," he explained. "We believe that we benefit as a school community when our stakeholders are active participants. We continue to invite and encourage our students, staff, parents, and patrons to offer input. I have no doubt everyone wants the very best for our children."
Going forward, Yearwood promised to review "internal processes" with "input from parents," focusing on "ways to share information effectively, clearly, and fully with our students and families. This will include a review of our permission slip process."
He repeatedly emphasized his commitment to "putting our scholars first."
"As a district, we continually strive to meet the expectations of our parents and community," Yearwood concluded. "When we do not meet those expectations, I apologize."
With five pro-establishment Columbia Public School (CPS) board candidates beside him, pro-change candidate John Potter stood out at the Columbia Board of Realtors Mark Farnen candidate forum January 24.
So did Potter's hard-hitting answers to a question about the drag show portion of a student field trip to the annual Columbia Values Diversity breakfast a week earlier. District administrators and school board officials have taken statewide heat for failing to notify parents about the show on their children's permission slips, then doubling down over the higher moral ground (inclusiveness and diversity) they say the drag presentation represented.
"What happened here is part of a CPS pattern I've been pointing out for two and a half years," Potter told the forum audience, citing his experience as a pro-parent advocate and minority voice on issues such as transparency and accountability.
"Speaking as someone who has dealt with a lot of transparency issues in the school district, this is something the district has done before, with opt-out forms and permission forms not being transparent," Potter explained.
The example he cited was a doozy.
"The district did this with a 4th grade puberty lesson, where the lesson showed illustrations of a homosexual fantasy that might give a child a wet dream," Potter said. "But the [parental] opt-out form did not describe that."
Potter cited the drag show as one among many national trends that eventually show up in Columbia.
"A lot of things happen around our country before they come to CPS. Examples include SRG (standards-referenced grading). We should take into consideration things that happen around the country so we can prepare for them here," Potter said.
"School shootings are a good example. We don't ignore school shootings. We don't stop thinking about what we can do just because it's a national issue. It's only a matter of time before some of these national issues come to Columbia."
Grade school-sanctioned drag shows are less tame nationally than the diversity breakfast performance, Potter explained. "Drag shows that feature men wearing G strings in front of children -- there has been a lot of that around the country," he said.
"It's important for our local political leaders to be transparent on where they stand on grown men wearing G-strings dancing in front of children. We also need to know where our district stands with regard to drag story hour. I've seen that around nationally as well.
"It's important that we address these issues now, and not wait for them to appear in our district, leaving us to clean up a mess afterward."
The school board election is April 4.