The Columbia Public School District is looking for volunteers to reconsider school boundaries for a new high school and new elementary school.
“(Volunteers) should be able to focus on what’s best for the students, how to make the transition smooth and how to get input from the community,” said Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendant for student support services.
Volunteers should also be able to handle the stress of being involved with a committee that could become controversial, she added.
“It is always frustrating for parents who buy a home in one (school attendance zone) to find out that it has been rezoned,” Barnett said.
The rezoning results from a $60 million bond issue approved by voters in April. The bond sale allocated money for new buildings, the locations of which have not been determined.
School Board Vice President Don Ludwig, who has been involved in past rezonings, will stay on after leaving the board at the end of June to serve on the committee.
“This is just the beginning (of the committee),” he said.
Ludwig said the group will have seven or nine members and look at the school boundaries from several standpoints, including population and diversity.
“We want to make sure that the change reflects the composition of Columbia as a whole,” he said.
Ed Hanson, principal of Fairview Elementary School, which was involved in a previous rezoning after the creation of Paxton-Keeley Elementary School, said it is important to consider demographics in the rezoning.
“What you don’t want to do is have a school that has a very high population of low-income students or high population of very wealthy students,” said Hanson, former head of the Columbia Community Teachers Association. “What you want is a nice balanced demographic.”
As during prior rezoning, the committee will meet with parents and teachers of the schools involved before presenting its final plans to the board.
“We will ask about concerns, document those, come up with alternatives,” Ludwig said. “When we are close to a solution, we will have several meetings (with the parents).”
Those who would like to express their opinions about the rezoning will have opportunities. Barnett said public meetings will be incorporated throughout the process. Ludwig agreed, saying it will be a “totally open process.”
“Every meeting will be announced and everyone is welcome to attend,” Ludwig said.
Missourian reporter Kendra Lueckert
contributed to this article.