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Columbia Missourian

Columbia Public Schools hosts tour of potential elementary school sites

By Jessica Thomas, Maddie Aberman
January 26, 2013 | 9:00 p.m. CST
Officials toured three possible sites Saturday for a proposed elementary school in southwest Columbia.

*Linnemeyer was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.

COLUMBIA — Nick Boren, deputy superintendent for administration of Columbia Public Schools, drove a school bus Saturday afternoon.


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The bus carried members of the Long-range Facilities Planning Committee and residents who were invited for a tour through southwest Columbia of potential sites for a new elementary school.

*The committee visited three properties: the Linnemeyer site, 30 acres on the southwest corner of Route K and High Point Lane; the Potterfield site, 36 acres on the southeast corner of Route K and Old Plank Road; and the Sapp site, 34 acres on the northwest corner of Scott Boulevard and Route KK.

The committee, composed of representatives from the school district, the Columbia School Board and the city, advises the board on development of district facilities.

The committee will advise the board on whether to exclude any of the sites, said Peter Stiepleman, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

"We are going to send engineers to each of these sites, unless the committee comes back and says, 'Forget that one,'" Stiepleman said.

Next, engineers will review logistics such as soil quality and elevation of each site with the school board. The board will meet in closed session to discuss the properties and make a final decision.

The Long-range Facilities Planning Committee has letters of intent with the landowners of each of the three sites about a potential acquisition, Stiepleman said.

"If we didn’t enter those agreements, somebody else comes in and wants to purchase the land and we’re in a bidding war, and that’s not good for the public schools because we’re using the community’s money," he said.

The tour was closed to the public, but principals from nearby elementary schools and members of the Parent Teacher Associations at both Rock Bridge and Mill Creek elementary schools were invited to attend.

The new school, which is tentatively set to open by August 2016, is intended to relieve overcrowding at schools in the area.

"We’re popping at the seams," Mandy Llewellyn, co-vice president of the Mill Creek PTA, said.

Both Mill Creek and Rock Bridge are overcrowded, said superintendent Chris Belcher, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Llewellyn said overcrowding creates scheduling conflicts at Mill Creek. Some classes are held in mobile classrooms.

The new elementary school will be located in southwest Columbia due to the growing population in that area. 

"Columbia has historically grown to the southwest fastest," Columbia real estate broker John John said. "Right now, there are 1,700 lots platted or pre-platted around this area that are not building yet, so you can see quite a bit more growth around the sites in the next five years."

What the properties look like

The tour began at Rock Bridge High School, where the group boarded the bus and headed to the first site, the Linnemeyer property.

Charles Oestrich, director of facilities and construction services for the district, said driving through neighborhoods would give the group a better idea of who could attend the school.

The drive took the tour group through largely undeveloped regions on a narrow, tree-lined road. In the area immediately surrounding the property, there are several housing developments.

The site has narrow roads currently without sidewalks. Changes in infrastructure would allow potential residents of the area to walk to the new school, John said.

The second property visited was the Potterfield site. It is on top of a hill, so the tour bus could not get close enough to allow the committee to see the property itself. The group did, however, get an idea of the surrounding area and access roads. John showed the group pictures of the property.

"On top of the hill is very flat, and it is clear," John said. "They are looking at providing a shovel-ready site on top of this hill with an access road coming down."

A shovel-ready site includes all on-site and off-site improvements, such as roads and sewage, so when the school board takes over the site, it is ready for building, John said.

The last property the group toured was the Sapp property. It is the only property of the three owned by an individual; the other two are owned by developers. 

The site is surrounded by housing developments. The group was able to drive through the Thornbrook development and get off the bus to walk on the property. 

Scott Boulevard heading north to Route KK is wide but narrows at the property.  The committee is looking to add multiple entrances with access from both Scott Boulevard and Route KK. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.