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Douglass High School closing next school year for renovations

One Columbia school is about to get major renovations next year, moving students out of the building.

The issue will be brought up Monday night when Columbia Public Schools Board of Education gets a report on the district’s attendance numbers.

Douglass High School, a building that is nearly 100 years old, will be closed for construction next school year. Instead of sending students to other high schools, CPS is searching for an open building in central Columbia to lease for a year.

CPS said the move for student will only be temporary. The school is set to be reopened by August 2017.

“We’re looking,” Michelle Baumstark with Columbia Public Schools said. “We’re looking for space. Ideally, it would be in the central location that Douglass is in now. So we’re actively searching for a property that will meet the needs of all of the students.”

In 2014, voters approved a bond initiative which included $5 million to make much needed renovations to the school.

“It has significant infrastructure needs as far as electrical and water, some ADA improvements,” Baumstark said.

The school’s principal showed ABC 17 News some of the issues inside the aging building Monday. Some of those issues include an outdated heating system, cracked floors, holes in tiles, beat up lockers, old bathrooms and ramps and stairs that are not ADA compliant.

On top of the repairs, $1.4 million will go toward classroom space improvements including a culinary arts area, a new welding area and a new music area.

“We want to make sure it has a music program, it has athletics, that is has career and technical [education], it has a culinary kitchen similar to the comprehensive high schools of Rock Bridge, Battle and Hickman. And so that’s what we’re proposing to do,” CPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Stiepleman told ABC 17 News at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Dr. Stiepleman said the district recently rejected an offer to conduct school in an old set of doctors’ offices. However, the cost of converting the building into a schoolhouse proved too costly for the district, which Dr. Stiepleman characterized as a poor use of taxpayer money for the place they would only use one school year.

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