Economic Development News
Chamber President & JCPS Superintendent discuss upcoming Bond Levy Proposal
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 8:00 am
By: Randy Allen
I recently had a chance to discuss the proposed Bond and Levy Proposal with Dr. Larry Linthacum, Superintendent of the Jefferson City public schools. Here are some of the key issues of concern to the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce in the form of my questions with Dr. Linthacum’s response.
Allen: What exactly will the voters consider in April?
Linthacum: JCPS will have two questions on the April 4, 2017 ballot
Proposition J will ask voters for the approval to issue bonds for construction - a total of $130 million in bonds - to build a second public high school and renovate/add on to the current high school. This vote represents $0.65 of the total $1.10 increase voters have been asked to approve. This vote requires a 4/7 majority - or 57.14% - to pass.
Proposition C will ask voters to approve additional funds for JCPS to use to 1) operate the second high school facility and 2) provide additional instructional resources for K-12 teachers across the district. Specifically, this will allow JCPS to provide textbooks and computer devices to ensure learning across the district for all students. This vote requires a simple majority - or 50.1% - to pass.
Allen: Many of us have been around long enough to have discussed many ideas for solving the overcrowding of Jefferson City High School. Can you explain the logic of this proposal?
Linthacum: This plan specifically - building a second high school and renovating the current high school - was recommended by the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee in 2014. This 50-member group was formed in July 2013, after voters in April 2013 opposed building one new high school facility on the land off Hwy. 179. Their task was to study JCPS facility needs over the next 20 years and identify solutions. Committee members combed over extensive research, including facility assessments from all 18 JCPS buildings. They met 14 different times between July 2013 and September 2014. They also hosted two town hall meetings to gather feedback and to allow JCPS stakeholders to voice their input.
This group gave their final recommendation to the Board of Education in November 2014 - to build a second high school, to renovate the current high school facility, to build a new elementary school on the east-side of Jefferson City, to add on to Callaway Hills Elementary and finally, to redraw all boundary lines throughout the district. This group gathered again in both October 2015 and September 2016, where they reaffirmed their support for this plan.
The Board decided to provide the voters the opportunity to solve the High School facility problem and provide for future improvements as the Bond equity becomes available.
Allen: As the lead Economic Developer in the Jefferson City Area, the Chamber is seeing businesses and new employees reticent to locate in our district because of the size of our high school. How will this proposal mitigate this situation?
Linthacum: Our district vision is to be the premier school district in the state of Missouri. We have traditions of excellence throughout our district that we are working to build upon and grow. A second high school would address our most immediate needs: we are out of space, we believe in giving all students opportunities to reach their potential, and we believe in smaller learning environments. We believe our schools are an asset to our community and a second high school would strengthen our school system. By approving Proposition J and Proposition C, this is a smart investment and is the foundation for not only our school system today, but for the future of the Jefferson City community for generations to come.
Allen: The Chamber completed a Labor Study in 2016. Based on this study, a Workforce Action Team was established to find ways to improve our available workforce. That group would like to see more emphasis on basic technical and “soft skills” education (personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people) for those students from the area public High Schools who intend to begin work immediately after graduation. How would the reduction of over-crowding and the second high school enable this?
Linthacum: Jefferson City High School and Nichols Career Center have identified workforce readiness skills, including job seeking skills, resumes and interviews, digital citizenship, web research, professionalism, personal finance and personal project management as opportunities to prepare our students for the workforce. These skills connect the area employers to Juniors and Seniors so that a more cooperative education can occur and would be easier to accomplish in smaller learning environments with two public high schools.
Allen: How would the plan for Nichols Career Center impact this need?
Linthacum: There are currently 29 classrooms within Nichols Career Center that hold JCHS students only, with 16 classrooms that serve sending-school students. A second high school location means the district could free up many of those 29 classrooms (approximately 15), allowing Nichols Career Center to use that space for the site’s original purpose, which is to provide career and technical education opportunities and programs for JCPS and sending-school students.