Wednesday, December 3, 1997

School district seeks public opinions: Two public meetings will be held to discuss elementary school enrollment

Published in the Columbia Missourian

The Columbia School District is still talking about redistricting, and you're invited. The redistricting commission wants community perspectives on its proposals for reorganizing elementary school enrollments.

The district's Enrollment Planning Commission will hold two public meetings this week on plans to reconfigure elementary school enrollments in the northern section of town.

"We don't have a corner on all the good ideas," said Donald Ludwig, chair of the commission.

The current proposed plan would move 57 students from Derby Ridge to Blue Ridge; 20 students from Blue Ridge to Two Mile Prairie; 66 students from Benton to Shepard Boulevard; and 26 students from Shepard Boulevard to Cedar Ridge.

Students from these elementary schools all feed into Lange Middle School, the commission's first target for redistricting. In the spring, the commission will look at the schools serving Smithton and Gentry middle schools.

Although commission members have a general idea of how they hope redistricting will flow, they stress that no plans are finalized and their minds remain open. They want to hear opinions.

"None of us have made a decision on anything yet," Ludwig said.

The principals of the schools hosting this week's meetings are not concerned about redistricting's impact on their facilities.

"We're willing and pleased to work with anybody who walks in our doors," said Teresa VanDover, principal at Shepard Boulevard.

Both David Brunda, Blue Ridge's principal, and VanDover are waiting to see what concerns surface at the meetings.

Tonight, Ludwig expects to hear from parents of children possibly slated to move from Derby Ridge to Blue Ridge or from Blue Ridge to Two Mile Prairie. Thursday, he expects to hear from parents of Shepard Boulevard and Benton schools.

"We'll allow any family who wants to speak, and we'll take notes and listen," Ludwig said.

Next week, the commission will meet to decide what it will recommend to the school board in January. The date for next week's meeting has not yet been set. The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the District Administration Building, 1818 W. Worley.