Work has officially started on a new $19 million elementary school in north Columbia.
Columbia Public Schools leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon for the newest elementary school, which will be adjacent to Battle High School.
The elementary school is part of a master plan for all future elementary schools in Columbia. School officials told ABC 17 News there are several reasons behind that plan. It will save taxpayers money, it's safe, and it also serves as a hub for community activities.
"It's really about, 'Can this school meet the needs of students as well as be a place that can be somewhat a beacon for the community?'" said Peter Stiepleman, assistant superintendent for Columbia Public Schools.
The school will hold 450 students, but has the ability for expansion as the community continues to grow. However, it's what's inside the doors that makes this school different than any other seen in Columbia.
"How it's designed is so that the classrooms and hallways can be closed off, but then the building can be open to the community in lots of other ways," said Stiepleman.
It starts with the gym.
The city is giving the school $150,000 to add better flooring, more seating and more space. This way, the whole community can enjoy the gym even while school is not in session.
"Exactly, but you can still have access to bathrooms, the cafeteria if that is needed as part of the arrangement, the media center can also be either open or closed," said Stiepleman.
The school is scheduled to open for the 2015-2016 school year and will house kindergarten through fifth grades.
The money to pay for the school is coming from a $120 million bond issue that voters approved in April 2010.
Just last week, CPS selected land in southwest Columbia another new elementary school. That school will open in 2015 and will be paid for by a separate bond issue that voters passed.
As for district boundaries, a seven-person committee was formed and will begin discussing the issue next week.