School board discusses Battle consequences

School board discusses Battle consequences

Sami Pathan

Working together: Superintendent Chris Belcher and school board member Tom Rose share a comment after the Dec. 6 Board of Education retreat. The board plans to finalize boundary lines in February 2012. Photo by Sami Pathan

Columbia Public Schools board members met Tuesday in part to sort through the more than 1,000 comments they received concerning the changes in boundary lines for Battle High School. Though the board did not make any definitive decisions, it is still on schedule to announce a final plan in February 2012.

 The Secondary Enrollment Planning committee plans to narrow down to two boundary proposals for both intermediate and secondary schools Dec. 19 followed by presentations to the Board in January 2012.
The board also discussed school assignments for teachers for the opening of Battle High. It plans to survey teachers regarding where they would like to go in January and make appointments based upon the responses and needs. Superintendent Chris Belcher is optimistic that a majority of teachers will get assigned to one of their top choices.
“We’re starting to get people to get signed up for what their choices are, which is important because it’ll be an entire shift because middle schools will be a six, seven, eight experience and high schools will be nine through 12,” Belcher said. “We think about 80 percent of people will actually get assigned to where they want to go and 20 percent will have to start looking at what the needs of the buildings and the students are.”
The bulk of comments made on the boundary proposals were directed toward the physical layouts and how they would impact families. Belcher said there are still many things to smooth out before a final decision can be made.
Citizens “said they wanted us to be as family friendly as possible but not to make the geography of the boundaries unreasonable,” Belcher said. “So that’s what we’re slowly doing. We’re tweaking it down. … we started with 140 scenarios then we were down to six, and now we’re down to five so we’re just slowly heading to that point.”
Board member Jonathan Sessions believes the selection process for both boundary lines and teachers is far from an exact science but hopes that with enough time and community involvement, the right decisions can be reached.
“I’m really excited because this committee is going to get together and look at some of the areas that are so fine and so high detail that we may have just missed something. It’s those little things that it’s easy to miss from the level that we’re having to approach this from, but through community input we have now found,” Sessions said. “It’s now down back to the committee to really fine tune these maps, recognize the best options and bring those to the board for the January meeting.”
By Sami Pathan