Columbia Public Schools redistricting committee hears growth projections

Thursday, April 28, 2011 | 8:47 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In redrawing the district's boundaries, Columbia Public Schools will use residential and road development data from the city to ensure the safety of its students.

The district's Secondary Enrollment Planning Committee is pooling resources to help them form the new districts. At its Thursday meeting, the committee made some final preparations for the redistricting process by hearing a presentation from Tim Teddy, Columbia's Planning and Development director.

Teddy explained which areas of the metro Columbia planning area have the highest potential for residential growth and roadway construction so the committee can keep that information in mind when creating possible boundaries.

The areas of the city most likely to see residential growth are the north, northeast, east and southwest, Teddy said. The projections are difficult to count on, though, because the data include land the city has already approved for construction and land that has not yet been approved and might not be developed.

Committee member Jim Whitt is concerned about communication between the city and the district. Teddy assured the committee he realized there should be coordination in terms of long-term development planning.

"The best thing we can do is form a partnership with the real estate development community and Columbia Public Schools," Teddy said.

Teddy also presented a hefty list of Columbia's roadway projects for the next 10 plus years, including those necessary and those desired but outside the city's financial means.

Road projects are a factor for the committee to consider because in its March community forums it found that a main concern of district parents is the safety of their children en route to school, committee chair Don Ludwig said.

"Particularly, the big issue is the safety of our roads," Ludwig said. "We wanted to get a sense of what's coming in the next five years and in the next 40."

At the meeting, the committee asked Teddy for a map of the metro area showing all transportation projects to be built in the next two years. The map will help the committee be sure of road conditions when the new boundaries take effect.

"The useful information is what's going to be funded in the next couple years," Ludwig said.

The committee will begin to create boundary scenarios at its next meeting on May 5 and continue to meet three of four weeks each month this summer. Committee members will be split into three groups, each to create two scenarios — one for intermediate school and another for high school attendance areas.

The six scenarios will be presented during public forums to be held about September.

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