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Our Opinion: Cost cools ardor for second high school

News Tribune editorial

A survey of Jefferson City School District patrons largely quantifies what our community suspected.

The summary at the end of the survey report finds “... a contradiction between what patrons say they want today, and what they are willing to pay for.”

What patrons favor, according to the survey, is a second public high school. But the potential costs create a chilling effect.

The 45-page report from Patron Insight, a Kansas City-based firm, compiles percentages and includes comments from 400 district patrons who participated in telephone surveys of 10-12 minute each.

Survey respondents, not surprisingly, favor the academy concept touted by district officials as an enhanced approach to secondary education.

The academy concept subdivides high school students in smaller groups, between 300-500, based on shared academic interests.

The survey found 57 percent of respondents favor the academy concept, with 30 percent opposed.

Their support was endorsed by the Board of Education and district administrators at a weekend retreat. “We’re fully committed to the academies,” said Board President Alan Mudd.

Choices beget choices, with the academy concept embodied in three available options.

A second public high school was favored by 48 percent of respondents. It outpolled two proposals to enlarge the existing high school campus — one with on-campus academies, endorsed by 22 percent, and another with satellite academies, favored by 14 percent. The remaining 16 percent were divided among other categories.

The obstacle, not unexpectedly, is cost.

Although 68 percent of respondents favor a bond issue, generally, support declines when specific proposals are presented.

The summary concedes, at this time, a ballot issue to finance the second high school option likely would fail to pass.

“As such,” the survey concludes, “there is much work to be done to continue to get the word out about the options and the costs ...”

Our summary — academies affirmed; second high school popular; bond issue iffy.

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