Mill Creek Overcrowding Solution Decided Upon

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia School Board made a decision to adopt new boundaries to alleviate overcrowding at Mill Creek Elementary school on Monday night.

Mill Creek Elementary is currently home to 859 students. The school's capacity is 850 students, which includes space added by two overflow trailers new this school year.

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said Mill Creek was originally designed and built for 700 students.

"Too many students disrupts the flow in the building," he said. "Trips to the bathroom or to and from lunch become crowded and disruptive."

Michelle Baumstark, director of community relations for CPS, said new boundaries are the best solution.

"We've talked about a number of solutions and redistricting really does seem to be the one that we need to move forward with to make adjustments prior to the opening of the new elementary school on the south side of town."

According to CPS, new boundaries will send over 100 students from Mill Creek to other elementary schools in the district. Paxton Keeley Elementary School, Russell Boulevard Elementary and Grant Elementary will all receive Mill Creek students.

Belcher said he believes almost every elementary school in the district is overcrowded to some degree.

"Boundary shifting is going to become what we do with new schools coming into the district," he said. "Change is going to come and the decision point is irrelevant. It's going to have to be made sometime."

Baumstark says while it's a highly contested issue, a decision had to be made.

"It's one of those decisions that's difficult to make but we have to do what's right for all students," she said.

The new boundaries will go into effect at the start of the next school year.

"The next step in the process will involve the principals of the schools that will be receiving new students to begin working with those families and welcoming them into their new school community," Baumstark said.