Friday, November 21, 1997

School board looks at long-range planning

Published in the Columbia Missourian

The Columbia Board of Education's work session Thursday morning moved the district forward in a number of important tasks: facilities planning, a technology initiative; and an audit committee.

The board will hold a public forum in January on the long-range facilities plan. The date for the meeting will be set at the board's December meeting.

Currently, the long-range plan eliminates the junior high school level in Columbia. Eighth-graders will be moved to middle schools and ninth-graders will be moved to high schools.

Kim Harding, Gentry Middle School principal, said a committee of middle school principals will convene next week with parents and district administration officials to examine the plan further. Because the committee has not met yet, the direction the discussion will take is unclear. However, the district concern about classroom space is almost sure to surface.

Under the plan, Smithton Middle School, which has about 940 students, would add an eighth-grade population of nearly 400.

Smithton Principal Wanda Brown-Cox is concerned about the number of trailers at her school and others in the district. She wants the students to have enough space, no matter what school they attend.

"I think it's a district concern more than a Smithton concern," she said.

The board continues to seek input from the public on the plan.

"We hope to encourage attendance from both students and other members of the community," said Harris Cooper, board president. "We want to make sure all the folks who will be affected by the plan have the opportunity to speak with us about it."

In other business:
The district administration got the go-ahead to apply for a five-year, $7.5 million competitive technology grant.

Board member Elton Fay asked board members to consider information that discussed the creation of audit committees.