Columbia's new public high school: Questions and Answers

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | 9:43 p.m. CDT; updated 12:13 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

This has been updated to correct Dave Babel's e-mail address and to add e-mail addresses for Ben Londeree and Don Ludwig.

COLUMBIA — A committee of 21 citizens will meet Tuesday to publicly review five potential sites for Columbia’s third comprehensive public high school. The committee is scheduled to decide on which site or sites to recommend to the Columbia School Board at its meeting two days later.

Here are the answers to questions you might have:

What has the committee done since it was created in mid-August?

On Monday, members received packets from the district with detailed information on each potential site, in preparation for the public meeting.

The committee has yet to meet or elect a leader but members have exchanged e-mails about estimated infrastructure costs. Member Glen Ehrhardt asked Superintendent Phyllis Chase for estimated costs of infrastructure or extending any necessary utility, and other members followed up with related questions.

Chase answered that there was no estimate of such costs.

In response, committee members are getting those estimates themselves. Ben Londeree, a member of Boone County Smart Growth Coalition, said he will estimate sewer line costs and fellow committee member Skip Elkin, Boone County Northern District commissioner, will get other cost estimates.

The content of these e-mails is online here.

What’s happening with the sites?

Engineering Surveys and Services of Columbia prepared information on six sites it deemed to be viable locations for a high school and submitted them to the district’s attorney, David Walker, last week.

However, on Tuesday, a site submitted by Robert Kinkead was pulled from consideration, schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase confirmed. Nancy Rosson, co-owner of the 63 acres off Olivet Church Road, lives there and has no intention of moving. She said Kinkead offered to sell the land, where they lived together for 13 years, to the district for $1.26 million without consulting her. She said she had received a letter from him but thought it was a farm bill and hadn’t opened it.

How can the public see the details of each site?

Information from the engineering firm is online here. Included in the site descriptions are details of the Vemer site southeast of Columbia, which was approved in May as the location for the high school. Public interest after that decision was announced prompted the creation of the committee and consideration of other sites.

How were the sites surveyed?

Dave Bennett, vice president of engineering at Engineering Surveys and Services, said that in preparing the information for the committee, surveyors visited each site. Beyond that, however, Bennett declined comment, saying Chase has asked that all calls from newspapers “go through her.”

How can the public weigh in on the five sites before the committee meets?

The best way is to contact the committee members, and here are their names, titles and e-mail addresses:

Andy Anderson, architect, DLR Group, Andy Anderson

Dave Babel, Realtor, Plaza Real Estate, Dave Babel

Lynda Baumgartner, owner, Image Technologies, Lynda Baumgartner

Glen Ehrhardt, attorney, Glen Ehrhardt

Bill Elder, Office of Social and Economic Data, Bill Elder

Skip Elkin, Boone County Northern District commissioner, Skip Elkin

Dave Griggs, owner, Flooring America, Dave Griggs

Jim King, no email available

Don Laird, president, Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Don Laird

Ben Londeree, Boone County Smart Growth Coalition, Ben Londeree

Don Ludwig, District Enrollment Planning Committee, Don Ludwig

Sally Mackey, parent, Sally Mackey

John McCormick, property owner near Vemer property, John McCormick

Robert Nolke, retired educator, Robert Nolke

Jim Ritter, retired schools superintendent, Jim Ritter

Tommy Sallee, parent, Tommy Sallee

Valerie Shaw, vice president, Commerce Bank, Valerie Shaw

Steve Smith, president, Premier Bank, Steve Smith

Don Stamper, executive director of Central Missouri Development Council, Don Stamper

Tim Teddy, city planning director, Tim Teddy

Ian Thomas, executive director, The PedNet Coalition, Ian Thomas

David Walker, Columbia School District attorney, David Walker

Chris Mallory, Columbia School District consultant, Chris Mallory

What will happen at the committee meeting Tuesday?

The meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the district administration building at 1818 W. Worley St., is open to the public. Members will review the sites with the expectation of deciding on one to recommend to the school board.

Chase said Tuesday that she recommends the committee not allow public comment at the meeting. But, she said, “The group will come up with their own norms — I’m not making decisions for them.” The committee has no agenda yet for the meeting, so it’s not clear if other citizens will have an official voice.

What happens after that?

The recommendation will be made to the board during its regularly scheduled work session at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 20, also in the administration building. Columbia School Board President Karla DeSpain said the public will have the chance to comment and ask questions before the board votes on the committee’s recommendation. DeSpain said it is possible the board will delay its vote.

Who has the final say on where the high school will go?

“The decision to move forward is ultimately up to the board,” DeSpain said.

What’s the hurry?

Because the high school is set to open for the fall of 2010, DeSpain said a decision must be reached by the beginning of October for the process to remain on schedule. “This is one thing we could discuss forever,” she said. “But at some point we need to make a decision.”

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