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Fulton can fit new students, officials said

Fulton can fit new students, officials said

July 11th, 2018 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Fulton High School awaits this year's students. According to school officials, housing developments in the works in Fulton won't immediately affect the district.

Photo by Ryan Boland /Fulton Sun.

Although a couple new housing projects may be on the horizon within Fulton's city limits, the school district wouldn't be immediately impacted, Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said.

One new project is calling for 150 new family homes and duplexes, with 10 homes being built initially off Collier Lane. The development is being called Willow Creek Subdivision.

"We can absorb that," Cowherd said of potential students in the initial 10-home development.

A 48-unit apartment complex is also proposed on the far south end of the city limits, on a 6-acre parcel on U.S. Business 54. Zimmerman Properties, which also manages Callaway Village, has asked the city to rezone that parcel from C-3 to C-2 zoning.

"That's not going to happen overnight," Cowherd said of the proposed projects and possible school impact.

While the Fulton school district is operating several older facilities, each teacher is afforded a personal classroom instead of in the past where some special subject teachers were "portable."

"We have had higher enrollment in the district," Cowherd said. "If you talk to the principals, we're at capacity. All of our teachers have classrooms, and we have some room for growth."

In 1991, the student population at Fulton Public Schools was 2,242.

While that number has fluctuated since then, according to state education reports, the 2017 student population was 2,314, an increase of 72 students over 26 years.

All educational buildings have had additions over the years.

Fulton High School is the district's newest building, with the first phase opening in 1967.

"There have been four phases, or additions," Cowherd added.

Bush and McIntire elementary schools opened in 1961 and both have been added to. Bartley opened in 1951 and a library and more classroom space have been added over the years.

"Fulton Middle School is what I call a legacy building," Cowherd said, adding it was built in 1938 and has had several additions.

Cowherd is been out and about discussing Proposition K, a referendum that would increase the district's operating levy.

Proposition K, which will appear on the Aug. 7 primary ballot, is a proposed operating tax rate increase of $0.5698 that would be used to maintain the district's mental health services, create competitive compensation and provide resources to meet student academic needs, according to the district's website. A taxpayer with a home valued at $100,000 would pay an extra $108 in taxes a year if the levy passes, according to the school.

Cowherd also said the district's facilities committee will be working on a new master plan in the next several years.

"The last couple of years, we've been paying down debt," he said, then later added, "The last few years, we've been talking about what kind of elementary schools we need. There are probably as many opinions (about this) as there are elementary teachers."

As the city grows, the school district also will grow. The district did go to voters a couple times, in 2005 and 2010, with proposals, but Cowherd said there was little appetite during those economic downturns.

"We have a different environment today," he added. "We've got a different environment downtown."

Other districts and their student numbers:

North Callaway: 1991 — 972; 2017 — 1,148.

New Bloomfield (Callaway County R-3): 1991 — 536; 2017 — 706.

South Callaway: 1991 — 728; 2017 — 781.

Missouri School for the Deaf: 1991 — 120; 2017 — 57.