COLUMBUS – As one of the four quality of life centers, the high school looks to be a staple of a community that continues to grow and expand.
The new high school will open to it’s students for the second half of the spring semester, and looks to be a central piece to a grow section of the city. Columbus Public Schools Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz says construction costs for the building, located just off Lost Creek Parkway, is coming in at $1.3 million dollars under budget.
“We’ve gotten the things we need, we haven’t necessarily got what we wanted, but we told our staff to dream big. And some things we’re able to do and some things we’ll just have to wait a little while longer, because we still have another project to go, converting the high school and repurposing some things for a middle school program,” says Loeffelholz.
Loeffelholz says the support for the new and improved S.T.E.M. Academy at the high school has been huge, with almost $1.4 million dollars raised towards S.T.E.M. education. Loeffelholz also says he credits the academy, for why the community showed support of the bond issue to build the school.
“I think part of that bond issue success was the S.T.E.M. Academy approach, and what we want to do to help the community with their workforce. And to provide a skilled workforce, labor force, for that matter,” says Loeffelholz. “And that really started out with the BIE, the Business, Industry, and Education Committee that I did, and then it came to the chamber, and then it came to the quality of life as a part of our fundraising campaign.”
Retiring Columbus Public Schools Board Member Ken Curry says the schools are positioned well to handle a growing community, with the old high school building holding a 5th through 8th grade middle school. This will free up more classroom space in the elementary schools, and the old middle school building will be able to house administration and serve other needs as well.
Curry says identifying the north section of town as the place to build three of the quality of life centers (Columbus High School, Columbus Wellness Center, and East Central Health District) has been a great move for the community.
“That part of town was where we ended up with the high school, and the YMCA/Wellness Center being. So the neat thing was it worked. We had some property south of the high school that we sold. We ended up buying that Hill Property, so we took some beatings for buying it but it was the right thing to do for the community,” says Curry.
As Columbus continues to grow and with the population continuing to rise as local officials look at new ways to build affordable housing, the new Columbus High School will continually aim to be an important piece of the community.
Loeffelholz says an additional $300,000 grant towards S.T.E.M. education from the Omaha Foundation, will bring the grand total of funds raised for the program to $1.7 million.