Changes take effect as school year opens for Columbia Public Schools

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:30 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 19, 2013
Muriel Williams Battle High School is welcoming its initial students for the 2-13-14 school year. The opening of the school is one of several changes for the Columbia School District this year.

COLUMBIA — A series of changes, timed with the opening of Battle High School, is sweeping through Columbia Public Schools this year.

The largest changes are a restructuring of secondary attendance areas to include Battle and a reconfiguration of grade levels that puts sixth- through eighth-graders in middle schools and ninth-graders in high schools and eliminates junior high schools entirely. 

The attendance area boundaries were redrawn among Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools — students apply to attend Douglass High School — and their feeders schools: Gentry, Lange, Smithton, Jefferson, Oakland and West middle schools.

Elementary school boundaries were not affected.

Transfer policy

Because of the boundary changes, some students have to switch middle or high schools. A new transfer policy approved in February 2012 will be implemented this fall that allows freshmen, sophomores and juniors who have a senior sibling at Rock Bridge or Hickman to request a transfer to their siblings' school.

Students who will be juniors in the 2013-14 year were also given the option to transfer to their new school a year early so they could attend their new school for a full three years.

Varsity eligibility

Transfers are not being given for athletics reasons, according to Columbia Public Schools. Eligibility for student athletes whose attendance area has changed because of district boundary adjustments will be able to participate in athletics and activities without issues; typically, student athletes who transfer schools are subject to consequences of limited eligibility.

Bruce Whitesides, athletics director for Columbia Public Schools, said that each transfer case is governed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association and is taken case by case.

Athletes who attend Battle are immediately eligible for varsity sports. Battle will have a full slate of athletics, though its varsity football team will not be eligible for state championship competition because it is scheduled on a two-year system. Battle will be fully eligible in the 2014-15 season.

Busing, start times

Public schools will be switching from a two-tier bus system to a three-tier system, running bus routes to elementary, middle and high schools. This also brings about new bus schedules and start times for schools.

Tier one includes all middle schools, which start school at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m. New Haven, Midway Heights, Rock Bridge and Two Mile Prairie elementary schools will begin at 7:40 a.m. and dismiss at 2:40 p.m.; Ridgeway Elementary School will start at 7:50 a.m. and end at 2:55 p.m. Benton and Lee elementary schools will begin at 7:55 a.m. and dismiss at 2:55 p.m.

The second tier of buses are all other elementary schools, which will begin school at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m.

Tier three of buses includes Rock Bridge, Hickman and Battle High schools, whose day starts at 8:55 a.m. and ends at 4:05 p.m., as well as Douglass High School, which begins at 9:15 a.m. and dismisses at 3:45 p.m.

Buses will arrive at schools 10 to 15 minutes prior to the first bell in the morning and will depart seven to 10 minutes after the final bell in the afternoon.

High school students can also enroll in early start/zero-hour courses, which go from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Open lunch change

With the addition of freshmen to high schools, there is also a change to the open lunch policy. Only juniors and seniors will be allowed to leave campus for lunch in 2013-14.

Jump Start Day

The first day of classes for all schools is Aug. 20, but all high schools and middle schools will hold a "Jump Start Day" for incoming freshmen and sophomores on Aug. 19.

Andrew McCarthy, assistant principal at Battle, said the Jump Start Day gives new students a chance to get familiar with their school. The students will be able to walk through their schedule, meet their teachers and take part in various activities and competitions with other students.

The Jump Start Day will run from 8:55 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. Attendance is voluntary; lunch and bus transportation will be provided.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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