Skip to Content

Columbia Board of Education approves Phase 1 of attendance area changes


The Columbia Board of Education on Wednesday approved a new elementary school attendance area change during a special session.

The board approved an option that would move 59 students to Russell Boulevard from Fairview Elementary, feeding Fairview Elementary into two schools, instead of three. The measure passed 5-1, with Boardmember April Ferrao voting against it and Boardmember Alvin Cobbins abstaining. The new attendance area would not be implemented until the 2025-26 school year.

Cobbins declined to comment while Ferrao was not available Wednesday night.

Board members debated which option to decide for over an hour during. Most were in support of that option but discussed whether or not starting the changes next year is fair. Ferrao stated she believed the district needed to look at the changes more holistically.

Boardmember Paul Harper raised concerns over the board rushing into the process during Wednesday's meeting. He said his worries were that the district was not giving parents of students enough time to process the changes before they are implemented.

"That was my biggest concern here," Harper said. "That's why I was advocating to push that one more year, for the administration to plan but also for the families just to process the change of schools."

Liz Goebel is a parent of three students who attend Columbia Public Schools and is also a teacher at Grant Elementary School. Goebel said one of her children will be affected by the district's changes.

Goebel said she was glad the district made a decision, and is appreciative of the board's consideration of both families and staff members when deciding to push back the year changes begin.

"To be able to prepare for those shifts and know the way that it affects FTE and the school culture and kind of prepare for those things, instead of having to make a bunch of decisions the last few months of the school year," Goebel said.

The meeting was held at the Aslin Administration Building and was meant to address changes coming to Russell Boulevard Elementary School. The attendance area changes being reviewed represent Phase 1 of a three-phase redrawing of school attendance lines. The district was considering one-of-three options. The other two options considered were:

  • Option No. 2: This option would move 44 students from both Grant and West Boulevard Elementary Schools to Russell Boulevard, feeding Russell Boulevard students into three middle schools.
  • Option No. 3: This option combines the first two, moving 72 students from Fairview and West Boulevard Elementary Schools to Russell Boulevard. Fairview and Russell Boulevard students would feed into two middle schools under this option.

Boardmember John Lyman said he supported the option the board approved over the others because it was the least disruptive of the three. Lyman said he wanted to be able to allow students to continue the tradition of walking to school within the new changes.

"Specifically Grant (Elementary), the neighborhood we were looking at to move to Russell Boulevard from Grant, they've been apart of Grant forever...there are a lot of walkers there," Lyman said. That's awesome to be able to walk to your elementary school that's down the street, so maintaining that cohesion was important to me."

Students who will be moved within Phase 1 will not be moved again during Phases 2 and 3, per the board.

A map detailing which school boundaries residents fall under in each phase can be found here.

Options for Phases 2 and 3 are expected to be shown to community members April 29. Meetings for Phases 2 and 3 are set for May 7-9 at the Aslin Administration Building.

The board also briefly discussed whether or not students should be grandfathered in, but ultimately decided not to take discussions further and hold off until Phases 2 and 3 are discussed.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

Jump to comments ↓

Nia Hinson


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content