Board Discusses School Facilities
It spent the last 18 months studying the needs of the school district's facilities in a three-part study. It looked at educational adequacy, community engagement, and facility engineering, specifically building air-conditioning systems. The board surveyed parents and teachers on what needs fixing, and it looked at national standards to keep Columbia's school district competitive.
"Not that anything is necessarily broken, but I think we need to look at overcrowding," school board member David Ballenger said.
Still, not everything is perfect. The survey, developed by the Community Engagement Task Force, asked people to rank the school's response to problems on a scale of one to ten. When it came to replacing or eliminating mobile classrooms, the district received a low four, but the issue earned a high eight to continue finding solutions to end mobile classroom use.
The school district has more than 150 trailers, in which more that 3,000 students receive their education. The Educational Adequacy Study states that more than one-third of Columbia's schools are seriously overcrowded and more than half exceed their design capacity. According to the study, the effects of overcrowding have caused program disruptions, crowded dining facilities, and inadequate restrooms.
"So, rather than just building buildings, what we're looking at now is not only the building we need but also the programs they'll house," Ballenger said.
The school board will look at action plans in December after considering a planning committee's recommendations. It could take four or five years for the changes to go into effect.