Additional high school site to be considered

Monday, September 17, 2007 | 6:16 p.m. CDT; updated 8:49 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tom Bass has offered to sell 70 acres to the Columbia Public Schools for $3.5 million. A story on page A1 Friday listed fewer acres for less money.

COLUMBIA — Several committee members say that a new land proposal will be considered as a possible site for Columbia’s future high school, despite being submitted after the school district’s Sept. 4 deadline.

Tom Bass of Columbia said he is offering 69.5 acres of his family’s land for $50,000 an acre, or a total of $3.5 million. Superintendent Phyllis Chase told the Missourian that Bass is offering it at $40,000 an acre , or a total of $2.8 million. The parcel is north of Interstate 70, east of Highway 763 and near Prathersville Road. Bass said he dropped off the proposal about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the office of David Walker, the school district’s attorney. The proposal came in eight days after the school district’s deadline.

There are five other proposed sites that will be reviewed.

“This is an important decision, it will impact us in an irreversible way for decades,” said committee member John McCormick. “I don’t think that any procedure or deadline should restrict options when we’re looking for the best site.”

Chase notified committee members by e-mail Thursday morning that the property had been offered. The e-mail also said that the committee would have to decide whether or not to accept the property after the district’s deadline. (Read the e-mail)

The earliest the committee will see Bass’ proposal is at its 6:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting at the district’s administration building, 1818 W. Worley St. The meeting is open to the public. Former Superintendent Jim Ritter has been named facilitator and is acting as the committee’s chairman. An agenda that he and Chase composed together should be sent out today, he said.

Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barnett said that the committee can “do whatever it wants” about considering the site but that there won’t be enough time between now and the committee meeting Tuesday to do an engineering survey to evaluate the site. Surveys of all other sites have been completed.

“I don’t think it’s humanly possible to get all the information done by Tuesday,” said committee member Don Ludwig, referring to the engineering firm’s survey.

Dave Bennett, vice president of engineering for Engineering Surveys and Services, will also be making a presentation at that meeting, said employee Timothy Reed.

Ritter said he feels confident that more time will be granted.

“I feel fine about the time because I think we will ultimately have more time. I think the committee will have whatever time it needs within reason,” he said. “It appears to me — and I feel like there is a great deal of agreement — that we cannot make this decision in one evening.”

It was only when a committee member approached Bass that he thought to offer the property. Bass declined to say who had approached him.

“If they want to take a look at it,” he said, “we can throw our hat in the ring.”

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