More students qualify for lunch help

Jefferson City’s Public Schools grew by only 80 students this year instead of the 100 or so that had been predicted, Superintendent Brian Mitchell announced during Monday’s School Board meeting.

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But there’s a bigger growth trend the district must monitor: “Over the last 20 years, our free and reduced lunch percentage has gone from 20 percent (of all students) to, this year, over 50 percent,” he said. “I don’t think our community understands how quickly it has changed.”

Mitchell told the seven-member board it’s an issue that administrators and teachers must continue reviewing, about “how to best-approach a student population that was not like it was (just) 20 years ago.”

The superintendent noted the district’s discussions about creating “academies” in the high school program, “where kids are more engaged and have stronger relationships with their faculty (and) their peers,” is one effort that can help address that substantial change in the student population.

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