New Jeff City school proposals to be unveiled Monday in Holts Summit

Holts Summit and other Callaway County residents in the Jefferson City School District have been invited to a special forum Monday night for a discussion of potential new Jefferson City High School expansion options.

The Holts Summit Community Betterment Association in cooperation with Jefferson City Public Schools is hosting the event, which starts at 7 p.m. at North Elementary School in Holts Summit.

The Jefferson City School District, which includes Holts Summit and part of Callaway County, has been discussing new concepts for a high school as well as a broader look at junior high and high school options in grades 6 through 12.

Monday’s forum will be the first peek at plans to revamp the district’s secondary schools, including the concept of adding high school academies to offer specialized and individualized training for students. A spokesman for the district said architect drawings of the three building options for the projects will be available for viewing at Monday night’s preview event.

David Luther, director community relations for Jefferson City Public Schools, said the forum will give Callaway County residents a chance to hear a presentation on potential options under consideration and give residents a chance to weigh in with their opinions about those options.

The proposed changes are the result of a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan group formed in 2008 to study the viability of a second public high school.

Luther said in 2009 a committee was formed not only to examine the need for second public high school but also to improve secondary education in grades 6-12.

In addition to facilities, the committee considered curriculum changes, teaching methods, and scheduling. These options also are open to discussion on Monday night.

The number of students in the Jefferson City School District makes it one of the largest in the state of Missouri. For construction of new facilities to serve the growing size, three options have been developed by the committee. The options include multiple campuses, a single campus, and two separate public high schools.

Luther said all of the options have only rough estimates of costs and could change as choices evolve. The costs range for the three options range from $38 million to $60 million.

Luther described the options to the considered:

Option A would be a single high school with several campuses or academies. It would make use of a new concept in high school instruction designed to meet the needs of today’s economy and job market. Jefferson City High School would continue to exist but there also would be several satellite schools that would house academies similar to a magnet school concept. For example, a plan shows the high school area also including a Natural Resources Agricultural Academy and an International Baccalaureate sequence. The current Thorpe Gordon Elementary School would be converted to an Arts and Communication Academy. The Simonson Freshman High School, which is located a few blocks north of the current campus, would be converted to a Business Management and Technology Academy. There also would be areas for biosciences, health services, and human services. The concept also includes an Industrial and Engineering Technology Academy. This option is estimated to cost from $38 million to $42 million.

Option B is to enlarge the current high school and expand its campus to include existing Nichols Career Center facilities and Thorpe Gordon Elementary School facilities. All three of the facilities would be renovated and the general look and feel of current facilities would be altered. Additional gym and fitness space would be developed at the larger new school and a large amount of parking space would be added. Thorpe Gordon Elementary School would be relocated to a new site because there is not enough room for it to remain at the current site if the high school is expanded. This option also includes the same academies offered in option A but they would all be concentrated on the one campus without satellite campuses. The school would have the same boundaries it currently serves and would include all of the district’s students in grades 9-12. This option is estimated to cost from $50 million to $52 million.

Option C, which is the most expensive, is to build a new high school and renovate the current high school. The two high schools would offer the same courses, sports and extracurricular activities. Both schools also would develop individual academies. Each school would house about 1,500 students in grades 9-12. The two schools would share use of Adkins Stadium but would have separate basketball arenas. The schools would likely draw from the existing middle school boundaries. That would mean students going to Thomas Jefferson Middle School would attend one school and those attending Lewis & Clark Middle School would attend the other high school. The second high school would be built just south of Adkins Stadium on property owned by the school district. This option is estimated to cost about $60 million. If the second high school is built at another location, then the cost of purchasing property would add to the cost.

Luther said the aim of the planning is to take the schools into the 21th century and produce students who can be trained to compete successfully in today’s job market.

Luther said new concepts will allow teachers to work with students in mid to small groups. Lessons would include multiple disciplines and students would experience real work scenarios.

How do academies function? They can be geared to vocational training that requires substantial technical skills or college prep classes with advanced specialized training. Luther said a sample video of how academies are used in California is available by visiting http://www.edutopia.org/stw-career-technical-education-academy-model-video on the Internet.

Videos and pdf printable versions of all three options are available on the Jefferson City High School website at www.jcps.k12.mo.us. Click on the Secondary Schools Study & Discussion link and scroll to the bottom for downloadable pdfs and videos.

Monday’s forum to discuss future plans for the Jefferson City School District is the first in a series of forums to be held by the district to determine which option to offer to the residents of the district .

Two additional forums will be held at Jefferson City High School cafeteria at 7 p.m. on April 7 and April 12.

Open houses are set at 7 p.m. on April 19 and April 21 at the high school cafeteria. This is a come and go event with opportunities to talk with committee members and look at the three building options under consideration, including architectural drawings of each option.

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