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      Three sites remain for new Columbia elementary school

      A bus tour traveled to all three sites Saturday afternoon.

      COLUMBIA-- There are only three sites remaining in the search for a plot for a new Columbia elementary school.

      Members of the school district's Long-range Facilities Planning Committee hosted a bus tour to all three locations Saturday afternoon.

      Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Belcher said adding the elementary school would not only allow for future growth, but also alleviate some of the overcrowding of the current elementary schools in the southwest area.

      " Mill Creek [Elementary] sits at over 860 students right now, it's a building that was designed for 700. We have trailers to accomodate the excess student population but as that development starts to kick back up on that side of town, we're seeing more and more housing start, we need to get a school out there by 2016 to accomodate that population growth," he said.

      While narrowing the search down to three locations is a big step, Belcher said there is more to consider when making a final decision than just the location.

      "We have to do a soil analysis, we have to look at the infrastructure, electricity, cable, fiber, gas. You have to look at the road improvements that are going to be necessary. So a site may have a lot more costs associated with it if it has to be improved," Belcher said.

      The new school is scheduled to open in 2016 and is being funded with bonds approved in the April 2012 bond issue election.