In the coming weeks, KBIA will be reporting on what effect the addition of Battle High School and the restructuring of middle schools have had on Columbia Public Schools overall.
Gentry Middle School has more students than any other middle school in the Columbia Public School District. You can see the exact enrollment numbers below:
When looking at this graph it’s clear to see from 2013 to 2014 enrollment in each school dropped dramatically. One reason is because all six schools are now teaching 6th, 7th and 8th graders. That wasn't the case before 2013 when three schools only taught 8th graders and the other three taught 6th and 7th graders.
Although the students are more widely dispersed, the numbers are still high at Gentry. Public school officials have acknowledged an overcrowding problem saying by the end of the 2018-19 school year, they are committed to finding a remedy to overcrowding at Gentry and moving students of classroom trailers.
"I can feel that in the hallways it's tighter and at my old school you have more time. But here it's harder to get from class to class," said Ji-Sung Lee, a student at Gentry.
As the number of middle schools grew the demographics also changed. But as the most populous school, Gentry currently displays one of the smallest percentages of minorities and the number of black students attending this year is half of what it was in 2013.
Columbia Public School's Board of Education Member, Jonathan Sessions attributes this to de facto segregation, meaning segregation among the schools is a result of the choice of residents to live within certain school zones. However, Sessions also said when the zoning areas were redrawn in 2013 some families were issued passes to stay at Gentry but he was insistent the passes were only issued to people with legitimate reasons, like medical needs.
Below is a map of the current zoning model for middle schools in the district.
If you have any questions or comments about the provided information please tweet us at @CoMoExp or comment below.