Potential new Columbia middle school could change attendance areas
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools says parents will get plenty of notice if a proposed new middle school will affect where their children will be going.
Parents have voiced a lot of concern about attendance areas, boundaries that determine where a child will go to school based on where they live. Those areas were under discussion at a Mondy meeting.
CPS Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said, "As a portion of the update that was provided [Monday] we began discussions about what attendance area changes might look like as we consider construction of a new middle school in south Columbia."
The administration would like to begin attendance area work in May 2018. Baumstark said that will allow the administration to announce the changes long before the potential opening of the new middle school.
Baumstark said, before those changes are even considered, the administration still needs approval from the community to build the new school.
"Once that happens then we can truly begin digging into what the attendance area process will look like," Baumstark said. "We have an initial outline of a timeline. We wouldn't look to start until May. We would look for that process to be at least a year, but we want to make sure that we also give families plenty of time to know what those attendance area changes will be before the new middle would be slated to open in 2020."
Baumstark says it is a long decision process to decide on the attendance area changes, and the administration will look for a lot of community input along the way.
The changes would help with overcrowding in schools caused by a growing population in the city.
Even though the attendance area changes will help balance the student/teacher ratio in the schools, it could still be difficult for some students to adjust.
Paxton Jobe went to Hickman High School before she had to transfer to Battle High School. She said she did not adjust to the change.
"You get situated in this environment, and you make all these friends, and you get comfortable and then it was just like 'well sorry that we put you here for a year, but now we have to kick you out,'" Jobe said.
Jobe said the move affected the school spirit as well.
"There was no culture at the school. And it was hard kind of building your own culture and your own identity because you were taking it from where you were. We just kind of copied Hickman and copied Rock Bridge because that's all we had," Jobe said.
Although Jobe did not like the transfer to Battle High School, she did say the attendance area changes helped balance her previous high school.
"There were well over 2,000 kids in that school and they were just drowning. The student to teacher ratio was ridiculous, and so I do think it helps with the overcrowding in a sense," Jobe said.
The attendance area changes would not only affect the middle schools. Columbia has what is called feeder patterns, meaning certain middle schools feed into certain high schools. As a result, the attendance area changes would affect high school students as well, much like when Battle High School opened in 2013.
The new school, if approved, would sit on 63 acres along Sinclair Road.