Elementary Students Set to Move Schools After Columbia School Board Action

Mar 14, 2017

The new attendance areas passed by the Columbia Board of Education last night. The colored areas represent the new attendance areas, red lines represent the old ones.

Just under 1,000 elementary school students in Columbia will switch schools in Fall 2018. The Columbia Board of Education approved new attendance areas for elementary schools at its meeting Monday night.

The boundaries, approved by a 6-to-1 vote, are part of the plan for the new Cedar Ridge elementary school on the east side of town.

Five other schools are affected by the changes: Rock Bridge, New Haven, Lee, Shepard and Benton.

Ben Tilley, the district's assistant superintendent for elementary education, pitched the changes to the board. He compared the emotions students and parents feel to a roller coaster ride.

Tilley said some students and parents would be frightened or anxious about a shift to a new school, while others may be excited about a new opportunity in a new environment.

“Our students, they love their schools; they love their teachers,” Tilley said after the meeting. “A lot of parents will buy a home because of a certain school. And so when we change those attendance areas because we’ve had growth, it connects directly to that emotion.”

Columbia Public Schools’ enrollment projections for the six affected schools. Officials say the plan was drawn up with growth in mind.

Tilley told the board he expects most of the affected schools to grow, with New Haven in particular he expects to see a big uptick in students over the next 5 to 10 years.

Tilley said New Haven’s projected growth could be “concerning,” but said the plan was drawn up to anticipate school populations growing over time.

“If we built a school to be full, we would be shirking our responsibility in some ways,” he said. “We have to be looking at what the potential is.”