For background on proposed new school boundaries in Columbia, view maps of the redistricting options and read our previous coverage. Also, to see live coverage of the forum Thursday at Rock Bridge High School, click here.
COLUMBIA — Seats filled fast Thursday evening at the second community forum on boundary realignments for Columbia Public Schools. About 75 people came to hear members of the secondary enrollment planning committee discuss proposed boundary changes for intermediate and high schools.
A live-blog of the forum Thursday can be found in the CPS Redistricting box at top of the ColumbiaMissourian.com home page.
The next forum will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at West Junior High School, 401 Clinkscales Road.
The group’s concerns seemed to be about transportation, reducing overcrowding and keeping communities of students together.
The Hickman forum on Tuesday focused almost entirely on evening out demographics.
Chairman Don Ludwig has said public feedback will be a major influence on which two scenarios the committee recommends to the Columbia School Board.
Here is a sampling of comments made at the Rock Bridge forum Thursday:
Cathy Stanley has two children in public schools: “The friends my kids made in elementary school, I thought it would be devastating if they didn’t stay together. Later they get involved in band, sports teams and other things. They get involved and that’s who they hang out with. I would encourage whoever’s making these policies to make them quickly and make them known so that I can move quickly, and, if I don’t like these policies, to decide to move.”
Melanie Forrest has three children in public schools and is a former teacher at Hickman: “Approach C was most flexible in growth areas of northeast and southwest. It gives a little more cushion room for people being able to move into those two areas. ... I prefer A for high school. C would be the backup. I don’t like the targeting of certain neighborhoods just to fulfill a demographic. (Approach) A intermediate has no sense of community at all ... ."
Laura Cole has three students in public schools: “Approach C seems to be the common-sense approach. It evens out the demographics of free and reduced lunch. It seemed to fulfill those big bullet points.”
Kim Dampier has three school-age children and an 8-week-old: “I think it’s really obvious that we can see that splitting up Mill Creek into four different intermediate schools under (Approach) A. Maybe it really does need to be split up. Does the city ever consider the infrastructure of the school? Most of us are liking C for intermediate plans, but Gentry is closest to capacity. We’re breaking this out, but then again, we’re near capacity again — and that doesn’t take into account new growth coming up."
Annelle Whitt has a ninth-grader: "I hear that this is a very passionate issue for us because we all want what is best for our children and community. There is no perfect plan we’re going to get. I hope we can think beyond just ourselves because the issue really is about all the children. I hope that we as a community want to be the best what we can be, and I think if it means we might have to sacrifice in a small way, there’s so much more for the community.”
Janine Stichter: "A lot of us in the south end up driving, and I think people take that for granted. The reality is that we end up driving. We don’t have data on how many of us don’t use the bus. I want our schools to have the resources they need and not to spend it on gas. Based on Mill Creek’s overcrowding and where I live, it would be option C for me."
Dearld Snider, who has a third-grader and a fifth-grader at Mill Creek: "In option A, which I don’t like, we’ll stretch it all the way out across town. You really kind of strip away the community under that option, in addition to Mill Creek being divided up into groups. In our neighborhood, the best scenario would be C.”
Sara Fougere has three children: "Intermediate approach A doesn’t make sense for those of us who live on the south side of town. We’re a mile and a half from Gentry. We walk to Gentry because of the community. The people who live near Gentry can see it from their house, and it doesn’t make sense for them to go to Jeff."
Mindy Van Eaton has a third-grader and fifth-grader: “I’m curious about approach A. It’s supposed to be an elementary feeder school scenario, but Mill Creek is split. Mill Creek is a great school, but we haven’t had a lot of board support or district support. We have an overcrowding issue.”
Anna Zacherl: “They’ve (the children) built relationships to get them through the next five years. I don’t like any of the scenarios because each one removes her (her daughter) from her friends. You can’t build this all on demographics.”
Missourian reporter James Ayello and Melissa Gilstrap contributed to this report.