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New Boundary Plans for Columbia Elementary Schools

Columbia Public Schools

Plans to change the boundaries of seven elementary schools in Columbia have received a lot of feedback. This change coincides with the opening of Beulah Ralph Elementary School, which also addresses the concern of overcrowding in Columbia schools.

Principal of Mill Creek Elementary School said she was expecting a change to alleviate the school’s burden.

“I know the other schools affected are also pretty overcrowded, so I think in the long run it will be positive for everyone because we’ll have another school to divide the students among,” she said.

Ben Tilley, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, said the increase of population in Columbia has impacted elementary schools significantly. He said the boundary plans also take that into consideration.

“So as we continue to grow as a community we have to address the growth of our schools,” Tilley said.

Beulah Ralph Elementary will take in around 550 students when it opens in 2016/2017. Tilley said this will take pressure off a number of schools who have experienced increases in the population.

President of the Board of Education, Christine King, said even though The Columbia Public Schools Enrollment Study Committee has taken in a lot of the feedback and reworked its options there will still be people unhappy with the change.

“I don’t think there’s going to be one option that everybody or the vast majority of everybody in each district will like,” she said.

King said the boundary change is not just to address overcrowding. The discussion started for the new elementary school site. She said the existing boundaries and current population of schools are in need of improvement. The last boundary change for the opening of Paxton-Keeley Elementary is now outdated and needs revising. She said there are more available streets than there were in 2002, for example Russell Island, which they are taking into account for Beulah Ralph’s plan.

The current population for new elementary schools hinder efficiencies as well. The ideal elementary school has 450-650 students, but currently many schools are responsible for around 700 students. She said the planning has been a multi layered comprehensive approach.

Boundary proposals will be presented March 19th at the Board Works Session and the adoption of boundaries won’t happen until the March 13th Board Meeting.

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