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Getting Schooled in Columbia

Jason Thornhill refers new buyers to the district website for school recommendations and questions.

We’ve officially made it through the initial craziness of a new school year. Supply shelves have been emptied, new outfits have been worn in and a tears were shed as students of all ages waved goodbye to summer. Last year 17,905 students found their way into one of the Columbia Public School District’s 19 elementary, six intermediate and four high schools. A common question Realtors encounter is what we think of a particular school: an inquiry not to be taken lightly but one that most of us tend to avoid offering strong opinions on. I’ve taken the high road many a time when a buyer asks me for my opinion on a school near a home they are considering for purchase.

My first and most confident recommendation is to refer inquiring buyers to the Columbia Public School District website, cpsk12.org. Newly revamped and now providing myriad information, the website includes thorough breakdowns of student population diversity, achievement data and free- or reduced-lunch recipients. Add to that a school-year calendar and list of activities, newsletters, publications, the comprehensive plan and contact information for the administration, and visitors will find as much information about the district and individual schools within it as they could possibly need. A short visit to the website will help answer questions as buyers begin this fact-finding in earnest.

The map you see pictured here helps provide a snapshot about general location of schools with regard to areas of town someone might be considering buying or building in. Recent and ongoing facility improvements proceed as the community continues to support bond issuances. Rehabilitation and improvement of older buildings, addition of technology, construction of new facilities and elimination of trailers have increased capacity and comfort for many of the students and faculty who call CPS home. The newest of schools, Muriel Battle High School, is located in northeast Columbia off Lake of the Woods Road. As the first new high school in CPS since Rock Bridge High School opened in 1973, the addition of Battle alleviated overcrowding at Rock Bridge and David H. Hickman High School while wreaking havoc on attendance lines. In August 2013, the city saw the elimination of CPS junior highs and a return to the more traditional K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 setting.

Although new school openings create excitement, the reconfiguration of school boundaries creates an equal amount of anxiety. Those purchasing homes to raise children in a particular district found themselves dangling between districts while awaiting word of those changes. Much of that distress has gone away now, but the importance of finding a district that meets the needs and wants of parents and their children will always be a critical component to deciding where to buy a home.

Jason Thornhill

Jason ThornhillJason is a broker-owner at Weichert, Realtors – First Tier. Since 2001, he has closed nearly $100 million in transactions, and he prides himself on sharing honest advice with his homebuyers and sellers. Jason’s positive reputation was built with hands-on representation and excelling in communication and teamwork with his clients. Weichart Realty

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