One high school or two?

JC board members spell out their stands on issue

Members of the dais look toward school board member John Ruth as he expounds upon the reasoning for a single high school in the Jefferson City Public Schools system. Officials were at the Mission Road round-about Oct. 1, 2012, to make an announcement regarding the purchase of land and the location of the proposed new high school. Next to Ruth is Dennis Nickelson and Joy Sweeny, both on the school board, Brian Mitchell, superintendent, and architect Cary Gampher.

Members of the dais look toward school board member John Ruth as he expounds upon the reasoning for a single high school in the Jefferson City Public Schools system. Officials were at the Mission Road round-about Oct. 1, 2012, to make an announcement regarding the purchase of land and the location of the proposed new high school. Next to Ruth is Dennis Nickelson and Joy Sweeny, both on the school board, Brian Mitchell, superintendent, and architect Cary Gampher. Photo by Julie Smith.

Six of Jefferson City’s seven school board members are convinced that replacing the city’s existing high school with a new one east of Highway 179 is the best possible option, if the community hopes to remain competitive in a global marketplace, address problems with overcrowding and meet those obligations in a way that doesn’t translate into an onerous burden for taxpayers.

To that end, members already have purchased a $3.1 million tract and signed contracts to sell the “old” high school to Lincoln University and Linn State Technical College.

Only one member — Marie Peoples — has raised concerns the district is not headed in the right direction.

“My stance is that one mega high school does not best serve the academic needs of all students,” Peoples said. “I believe that two high schools will provide more academic and extracurricular opportunities.”

Her peers have chosen a different direction; they argue a single high school — broken into seven smaller learning communities called academies — strikes a good compromise between the expense of operating two high schools and the Jay Pride excellence the district cherishes.

Ultimately, it will be up to the voters to decide whether or not the board’s GPS is functioning or on the fritz.

Here is a sampling of the board’s various viewpoints:

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