Columbia School Board names new school for Eliot Battle

Monday, February 10, 2014 | 10:36 p.m. CST; updated 11:27 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 11, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board chose Monday night to name the newest northeast Columbia elementary school in honor of Eliot Battle.

The school is expected to open in August 2016.

A two-month nomination period yielded more than 30 possible names, and a naming committee narrowed the list to two: Luella St. Clair Elementary School or Eliot Battle Elementary School.

Battle was a Columbia educator for more than 40 years. He and his wife, Muriel, led the way in integrating Columbia's schools. Battle died in June 2013.

Luella St. Clair was the first woman to serve on the School Board, and she was the first female president of Christian Female College, which was renamed Columbia College.

Construction on Eliot Battle Elementary School began in October 2013.

The board also discussed the proposed Community Improvement District, issuing bonds and other action.

Community Improvement District

The board listened to Tom May speak about implementing a Community Improvement District for Business Loop 70.

The improvement district would raise sales tax on Business Loop 70 by 0.5 percent. May said sales tax on Business Loop 70 is 0.5 percent lower than the rest of Columbia, so this would bring it up to par.

An improvement district board would administer the funds. Business leaders have talked about burying power lines, beautifying the area and addressing safety concerns.

"We need to do something desperately with what the business loop is today," said May, who works with MFA Oil Co. on Business Loop 70.

Hickman High School is the only public school that the improvement district would affect. The board agreed to vote on the district during its Feb. 20 work session.

Fifty-one percent of the property owners on Business Loop 70 would need to approve the improvement district for it to be implemented.

Board member Darin Preis said an improvement district sounded like a good plan.

Bond issue

The board unanimously voted to authorize issuing $50 million in bonds. A portion of a 2012 bond issue provided $8.7 million. The remaining $41.3 million came from the bond issue that voters approved in 2010.

Other action items

The 2015-16 school year calendar was approved with a 6-1 vote. Board member Tom Rose dissented because he disagreed with how the district will handle extended school years.

Amendments to the 2013-14 budget were unanimously approved.

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