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Committee to hear from public on new high school site selection

Monday, September 17, 2007 | 8:02 p.m. CDT; updated 11:09 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Since 2003, Nancy Harter has participated in an interactive e-mail newsletter called Columbia Citizens. This weekend, she sent out a message encouraging others to get involved in deciding where the city’s next public high school should be.

Specifically, she directed people to a City Council meeting Monday night and a meeting tonight of a committee charged with recommending a site to the Columbia School Board.

IF YOU GO

What: Meeting of the high school site committee. When: 6:30 p.m. today Where: West Junior High School cafeteria, 401 Clinkscales Road. The meeting was originally slated to be held at the School District administration building, 1818 W. Worley St., but the location was changed. For more information: For more about Columbia Citizens, go to yahoogroups.com and search for that name.

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“We need to figure out how the city and school can get together,” Harter said in an interview Monday. “I hope that enough people start a dialogue and show up at the meetings so that the school board realizes there is a great concern about the process that has been used and that there needs to be input from this community.”

Harter, who was on her way to the council meeting, thinks the best way to facilitate a healthy civic conversation is to get information out there.

“The nice thing about blogs and listservs is that you can get the information out instantaneously, and you can get a discussion going more quickly,” Harter said.

The school committee was initially supposed to review five and possibly six sites at this first meeting, decide on a favorite and recommend that site to the school board at its work session Thursday morning.

However, committee facilitator Don Ludwig said earlier that the group will slow down just a bit, addressing first procedural issues such as whether the public will be allowed to comment and whether the sixth site, which came in late, will be considered.

A second meeting, the date of which has not been announced, will include a look at sewer and other infrastructure costs. Either at that or a third meeting, the 21 members, appointed in mid-August by schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase, will then rank the sites in order of preference and will later recommend its top pick or picks to the board.

The committee will still make a presentation to the board at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at its meeting at 1818 W. Worley St.

“But it’s not going to be a recommendation,” said board vice president Darin Preis. He said the committee will be more likely to have questions for the board.


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