Columbia Public Schools can now build parking lots at *a proposed middle school, currently called "Southwest Middle School," with more spaces than the city code permits. That’s because the city’s Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to approve the district’s request for a variance Tuesday night.

The required number of parking spaces is determined by the city’s unified development code. Based on the number of proposed classrooms, the maximum allowable number of parking spaces for the planned school was set at 396. The district planned to build 425 parking spaces, so it needed the board’s approval..

Zachary Thomas, an engineer representing the school district, said the school needed extra parking for special events such as parent-teacher conferences, registration and sporting events.

“Columbia Public Schools has gone out of their way to make their facilities available not just for school events but for all kinds of things,” board member John Clark said. “The notion that we need parking for all these various things not only benefits the children going to school, but this is just a good pattern to continue.”

In June, the district approved the purchase of 63 acres on Sinclair Road in southwest Columbia to build the new middle school. Construction of a new school was a response to concerns of overcrowding at Gentry Middle School. The school is scheduled to be operational by August 2020.

Supervising editor is Jared Kaufman:, 882-7884.

  • Public Life reporter, Spring 2018, Studying data journalism. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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