Columbia Public Schools broke ground Wednesday for a new elementary school near Battle High School.
The groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies kicked off the construction of the $19 million elementary school meant for 450 children. School district officials say the school can expand with the growing community. The school is set to open for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Columbia Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Peter Stiepleman says the new school will help alleviate overflow problems.
“We are now in the process of building elementary schools, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” Stiepleman said. “We’ve got a great superintendent who’s really worked hard to have the community understand that we’ve got lots of mobile classrooms, and we’ve got a lot of over-enrollment in a lot of our schools, and this is our ability to meet the needs of kids.”
Stiepleman said the proximity between the new school and Battle High School will be beneficial for the schools and the community. He anticipates activities between the two, such as child development classes. The city will provide $150,000 to Battle High School to expand its gymnasium as well as add bleachers and improved flooring. Stiepleman said once the projects are completed, they will serve as a gathering space for the community.
The construction funds come from a $120 million bond issue from April 2010. Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said the construction comes at an opportune time.
“As with this project, like with Battle, we’re in the middle of a slow economy, so the interest rates are depressed,” Belcher said. “So, when we sell our bonds to fund this, we’re selling them at very low rates, which means more money goes into projects.”
Belcher says the city received 11 bids competing for the school’s construction, and most of the bids were within a million dollars of each other.
The name for the new school has not been chosen yet. A naming committee will meet for a final time on Nov. 7 and then present its top two names to the board of education for selection.