Columbia Public Schools meet with city, county officials about planning for school sites

Monday, February 25, 2008 | 6:59 p.m. CST; updated 11:07 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This story has been corrected to reflect that Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins reported to county and school officials on Monday that the proposed state budget for fiscal 2009, not the city budget, includes $5 million for the Columbia Career Center.

COLUMBIA — The time is now for city and county governments to get clued in on the location of buildings being planned by Columbia Public Schools, Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said during a work session with city and school officials on Monday.

Miller specifically asked schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase where the district might be planning to build in the foreseeable future, noting that having that information now would allow city and county staffs to begin planning future road, sewer and other infrastructure improvements in those areas.

Chase cited the schools’ Long Range Facilities Plan, saying there is a need for schools “north, south, east, west.”

Chase said one could “throw a dart” at a map of the district and wherever it landed would be a useful site for a school. She said that once the school district hones in on specific sites, it would be reluctant to divulge them for fear of driving up the prices of the properties.

Miller, however, urged Chase not to underestimate the value of county staff, adding that staffers would maintain discretion in talks with school officials and not release any site locations to the media.

The work session was one in a series of meetings between city, county and school officials intended primarily to plan for the new high school off St. Charles Road. The main action on that front during the meeting was a discussion of a “pre-annexation agreement” through which the high school site would be annexed as soon as city boundaries become adjacent to the land.

The new school site would have to meet inspection standards of the county during construction and city standards once the land is annexed. The group, which also included City Manager Bill Watkins, Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin and school district Chief Operations Officer Nick Boren decided to create a team, including all officials and the school’s architect, to work on coordinating between the two standards.

“Pre-annexation is almost a formality,” Elkin said.

Elkin also reported that the Missouri Department of Transportation is conducting a pilot study in the area of the new high school that will assess the safety of St. Charles Road.

In other business at the work session:




  • Miller asked Chase for a copy of the school district’s new boundary plan for elementary schools, saying curious constituents had asked for it. Chase said the report would be ready in May. The redrawing of elementary school boundaries is only one step as Columbia Public Schools makes the transition to an intermediate school system, in which sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will be housed in one building. Chase said she hoped to develop a feeder system so that students from intermediate schools can stay together as they progress to high school.


  • Elkin reported that the county has engaged a construction engineer to develop a conceptual plan for hooking Waco Road at the site of a new elementary school to the Prathersville interchange on U.S. 63.


  • Watkins said that while the proposed state budget remains subject to change, it now includes $5 million for the school district career center. Chase said the money could be used in the construction of a new facility at the new high school site. Watkins also has been exploring a partnership with Linn State Technical College and Moberly Community College about the career center and asked Chase whether the school board would be interested. Linn State has a similar partnership with Mexico schools that resulted in the Advanced Technology Center at Linn State.



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