Columbia Board of Education approves attendance area change

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education approved a middle school attendance area change Monday evening.

The proposed change affects Gentry, Jefferson and Oakland middle schools. The redistricting goal is to relieve overcrowding at Gentry Middle School until a new middle school is built.

Michelle Baumstark, CPS Community Relations Director, said “Ultimately, the long-range goal here is to get a new middle school open.”

Baumstark said the change could affect several Oakland school students as well.

The approved plan was revised on January 18, 2017. The most recent controversial plan was revised on February 2, 2017. Several parents said that plan did not give them enough time to voice their concerns.

David Fort, a parent whose children attend Gentry Middle School, said he was surprised by the board members’ decision. “I don’t want any kid to be taken out of their school and sent to another,” Fort said.

Several other parents said they were happy with the school board’s decision.

The school board also voted to move up the construction of the new middle school from 2022 to 2020.

The middle school will be located in the southern part of Columbia, but land has not been purchased.