The Columbian home page

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bittersweet end to Columbia College’s partnership with Field Elementary

By Wayne Boykin

The students and staff of Field Elementary School moved to the new Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary after winter break, ending the 22-year Partners in Education (PIE) relationship Columbia College had with Field.

According to Michelle Baumstark, Columbia Public Schools community relations coordinator, the decision to close Field started in 2006. The Long-Range Planning Committee came to the conclusion that CPS needed to build two new elementary schools and a new high school. A three-stage process was initiated to achieve the committee’s goals. The first stage was building Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School.

When the CPS Enrollment Management Committee began looking at redrawing the boundaries for the elementary schools, they ran across a problem. Baumstark said, “No matter how they looked at the boundaries, it was going to hurt Field.” CPS decided it was best just to move the whole student body to the new school.

Dr. Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent of CPS, said, “Field was supposed to move at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year; however, due to weather issues we lost over 100 days of construction.” The new elementary was finished in December. “There were many reasons for moving Field in the middle of the year,” said Jensen. He said one of the biggest reasons was the issue of leaving a new building empty for a year. Jensen said CPS needed to ensure all the systems in the new school were working before the warranties expired.

Dan Boatman, former principal of Field and current principal of Alpha Hart Lewis, said, “This move gives us a half a year to get used to the new building and work out all the kinks.”

Jensen also said another reason for the move was to make time for CPS to renovate the Field building. According to Jensen, the Field building will house the early childhood program on the main floor and the gifted program on the second and third floors. These programs are scheduled to start using the building in August.

Although the Field building will still be in use, it seems unlikely that the college will continue its relationship with the school through PIE. Faye Burchard, dean for Campus Life, was asked about the possibility of working with the early childhood and gifted programs. She said she did not see a strong match. “We do not have an early childhood degree here at Columbia College,” Burchard said, adding, “Students involved with the gifted program will travel to and from other school into Field, so the inconsistent population may not provide as strong of an opportunity for partnering.”

Partners in Education was the biggest Columbia College group working with Field. Burchard said the college’s plan is to end PIE and replace it with a volunteer group. “It’s a bittersweet end to a great partnership for 22½ years,” she said.

“We can’t recreate a new partnership that’s going to replace what we had with Columbia College, Boatman said. “What we had with Columbia College was special and unique.” Jenson said CPS is willing to work with Columbia College to find another program that will maintain the partnership.

Photo Credits
1. Photo courtesy of CPS
2. Dan Boatman, principal of Alpha Hart Lewis, gives Faye Burchard, dean for Campus Life, a tour of the new elementary school. Photo courtesy of CPS

No comments: