Columbia Public Schools closes on new middle school land, talks long-range plans

COLUMBIA, Mo. - On Monday night, Columbia Public Schools held a "World Cafe'" with residents at the Stoney Creek Hotel. Those who attended were able to give their input for current and future facilities.

"The long range facilities plan that we've had for this school district is a 10-year plan," CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said. "It's coming to a close. We've accomplished a lot and now we need to ask our community what they want for the next 10 years."

Baumstark also said the board of education has purchased the land it was eyeing on Sinclair Road for a new middle school.

"They've finished the inspection phases, everything looks good and so we're closing on that property now," said Baumstark. "We have Gentry now, but it will be a seventh middle school in Columbia to alleviate overcrowding that we're seeing in south Columbia, in particular at Gentry Middle School."

Attendees at Monday's event were asked to discuss and come up with ideas with others at their tables to answer three questions.  What are the ideal learning spaces?  How do we maintain existing facilities?  How should we incorporate innovation  into our facilities?

Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman asked a class at Rock Bridge High School to come to the "World Cafe" and give their input. 

"We have our community that comes out and they are so supportive of their schools and they want to give feedback, this is a new voice that we haven't had," Stiepleman said.  "I can tell you that having high school students here tonight means so much to us as a school district because these are the schools that they are going to inherit."

Some of those schools that will be inherited include Grant and Lee Elementary.

Baumstark said construction is already underway at Grant for a classroom addition and improvements while Lee is still in the planning stages. This includes weighing a controversial name-change.

Notes were taken at each table, including suggestions from participants. Those notes will be compiled and shared.

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