More Change Coming for Columbia Schools
In northeast Columbia, the halls of Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary are empty. But when classes resume in August, there will be considerably more students than last spring.
"We're not concerned at all," said Assistant Principal Kris Matthews. "We knew going in that we we're going to double our population. We've been working for the past year to prepare."
Lewis opened in January with about 300 students. But boundaries will be changed for the fall, and Lewis Elementary will house about 600 students. Most, but not all, of the new students will come from Derby Ridge Elementary and Blue Ridge Elementary.
District officials say they have tried to communicate with parents during the transition.
"They do have the ability to request to stay at a school or move to another school," said Superintendent Chris Belcher, "I know there have been some people that would prefer to stay, but maybe didn't get to. That's just all part of that dance that occurs when you change boundaries."
School officials say they are trying to easy the transition for students and parents.
"It's natural for parents to want to come to the school and find out about what the new environment's going to be like," said Matthews. "But just about every parent that's come and seen this school and talked with us and met our faculty is thrilled."
Mary Flatt is the president of the Columbia Council of Parent Teacher Associations. She also serves in the Blue Ridge Elementary PTA and she says she understands how the parents feel.
"Fear of the unknown is probably what might be expressed by parents as being their greatest concern right now and what will this new experience be like for their child." said Flatt.
But Flatt says as a parent, she's excited about all the changes.
When it opened in January, Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary replaced Field Elementary. The boundary changes impact seven Columbia elementary schools.