CPS unveils 10-year plan, aims to limit overcrowding

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COLUMBIA – Columbia Public Schools is planning ahead and met with community members and administrators Thursday to discuss strategy for the next ten years. 

The board faces the obstacle of anticipating consistently growing schools. CPS statistics anticipate a growth of nearly 2,000 students by 2026. CPS hopes to comfortably accommodate a surplus of students while cutting back on its use of stand-alone trailers. 

"They keep me up at night," said John White, Safety and Security Director for CPS. 

In the last 10 years CPS has removed 108 trailers, going from 173 total units in 2006 down to 65 currently. All trailers have been removed from high schools. 

However schools like Gentry Middle are still at capacity. CPS projections for 2018-19 have Gentry at 128 percent of capacity if trailers are not factored in. 

"There's a lot of headaches for us, so I'm very happy that we've cut back over 50 percent and hopefully we can get rid of all of them," White said. 

The board said the addition of a seventh school–Southwest Middle, will alleviate the pressure of frequent growth. Superintendent Peter Stiepleman presented two construction timelines for the new facility. 

With the opening of a new school comes redistricting, and Steipleman said he hopes to make the process smooth for both students and administrators.

"We don't want to make a decision and then have to go back and reverse it," Steipleman said.  

The committee will submit a formal proposal for hiring a redistricting firm to the CPS Board in May 2018. 

The committee will rely on community engagement to help shape the group's direction when planning up until 2027. 

There are additional opportunities for community members to engage with the board and provide feedback on the long-range plan. The next meeting is October 2 at the Stoney Creek Hotel from 6-8 p.m.