Columbia breaks ground on a new elementary school

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools is scheduled to break ground on a new elementary school in east Columbia on Thursday morning. It is one step further in eliminating trailers in the school district.

The ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. on the corner of Columbia Gorge Parkway and Howell Mt. Drive, in the Vineyards Subdivision. The school site covers 26 acres.

Michelle Baumstark, the community relations director of CPS, said, when the new school opens in 2018, it will replace Cedar Ridge Elementary, which is about one and a half miles away.

"There are more students in Cedar Ridge Elementary in trailers than there are in the physical building. The building itself has a capacity of about 200 students," Baumstark said.

The new school is expected to have a capacity of 650 students. It's part of the district's long-range facility plan, which aims to eliminate trailers and address continued growth in Columbia.

"We're below a hundred trailers left in our school district and, prior to that, when we first started our long-range facilities plan, we had 174 trailers in the district. So we've made some significant gains in meeting our goal," Baumstark said.

The Board of Education last Monday approved the bid from K&S Associates of St. Louis for the $17.2-million construction contract. The project is funded through a 2014 bond issue.

It will be the fourth new elementary school to be constructed as part of the district’s long-range facilities plan. Alpha Hart Lewis opened in 2010,  Eliot Battle opened this past school year,  and Beulah Ralph Elementary will be dedicated in August, according to a press release by the CPS.

The school district hasn't decided on the name for the new school yet.