Possible nature school in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Fifth-graders going to school in the woods could soon be a reality for students in the Columbia Public School District.

This would be the first in the nation, where a school is in a state park.

This nature school would be four classrooms with 100 fifth-graders.

"Instead of learning math by itself and language arts they would go out in the field almost everyday and study something in science," said Mike Szydlowski, K-12 science coordinator for Columbia Public Schools.

The students would fulfill all of their academic requirements, but nature and science would be emphasized.

If the school becomes a reality, all fifth-graders in the district could apply and the students would be chosen through a lottery system.

The estimated cost for the building is $500,000 that will reportedly not be coming from the taxpayers.

"We're hoping to get funders that would love to be a part of this program and have this cost as little as possible for Columbia," said Szydlowski.

Superintendent Chris Belcher told ABC17 that they do not plan to take money out of their operations budget besides the cost of teachers.

The Department of Natural Resources will provide funding and land, while Columbia Public Schools look for private donors.

If the school gets approved, they plan to have it ready by next August. Student could start applying as early as December.

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